Demodex is a type of permanent obligatory parasite, which can be found on the human body surface. Currently, drugs targeting Demodex usually result in adverse effects and have a poor therapeutic effect. Thus, the aim of the present study was to investigate the use of Chinese crude medicine volatile oils for targeting and inhibiting Demodex in vitro. The volatile oils of six Chinese crude medicines were investigated, including clove, orange fruit, Manchurian wildginger, cinnamon bark, Rhizome Alpiniae Officinarum and pricklyash peel, which were extracted using a distillation method. The exercise status of Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis and the antiparasitic effects of the volatile oils against the two species were observed using microscopy. A skin irritation test was used to examine the irritation intensity of the volatile oils. In addition, an acute toxicity test was utilized to observe the toxicity effects of the volatile oils on the skin. Xin Fumanling ointment was employed as a positive control to identify the therapeutic effects of the volatile oils. The results indicated that all six volatile oils were able to kill Demodex efficiently. In particular, the clove volatile oil was effective in inducing optimized anti-Demodex activity. The lethal times of the volatile oils were significantly decreased compared with the Xin Fumanling ointment (P<0.05). Furthermore, the skin irritation test results indicated that the clove volatile oil did not trigger any irritation (0.2 and 0.3 points for intact and scratched skin, respectively), and had a safety equal to that of distilled water. There were not any adverse effects observed following application of the clove volatile oil on the intact or scratched skin. In conclusion, the volatile oils of Chinese crude medicines, particularly that of clove, demonstrated an evident anti-Demodex activity and were able to kill Demodex effectively and safely in vivo.
Keywords: Chinese crude medicine; Demodex; anti-Demodex activity; volatile oil.