Comparing the efficacy of Emu oil with clotrimazole and hydrocortisone in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis: A clinical trial

J Res Med Sci. 2013 Jun;18(6):477-81.


Background: Seborrheic dermatitis (SD) is a common, chronic inflammatory disease. Inflammatory reaction and oxidative stress are thought to be effective in the pathogenesis of SD. Based on anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of emu oil, this study was designed to evaluate effects of emu oil on patients suffering from SD, and to compare it with routine treatments of SD with topical steroids and antifungal agents.

Materials and methods: This clinical trial was conducted on126 patients who were randomly allocated to 2 groups: 62 in the clotrimazole vs. emu oil (group-1) and 64 in the hydrocortisone vs. emu oil (group-2). The right side of the face in both groups was treated with topical emu oil. The left side was treated with topical clotrimazole in the first group and with topical hydrocortisone in the second group. One month after the treatment, pre and post treatment symptom severity scores of pruritus, erythema and scales were compared.

Results: All 3 medications significantly improved pruritus, erythema and scales (P < 0. 01). However, topical clotrimazole and hydrocortisone were significantly more effective than emu oil in improving scales (P < 0.01), and hydrocortisone was significantly more effective than emu oil in reducing pruritus (P < 0. 01). Comparing with topical clotrimazole, emu oil resulted in significantly more improvement of erythema (p:0.01).

Conclusion: Emu oil is a potentially useful agent that significantly improves itching, erythema and scales associated with SD; however, it was less effective than hydrocortisone and clotrimazole which are routinely prescribed to treat SD.

Keywords: Emu oil; seborrehic dermatitis; therapy.