In vitro activity of ten essential oils against Sarcoptes scabiei

Parasit Vectors. 2016 Nov 22;9(1):594. doi: 10.1186/s13071-016-1889-3.


Background: The development of alternative approaches in ectoparasite management is currently required. Essential oils have been demonstrated to exhibit fumigant and topical toxicity to a number of arthropods. The aim of the present study was to assess the potential efficacy of ten essential oils against Sarcoptes scabiei.

Methods: The major chemical components of the oils were identified by GC-MS analysis. Contact and fumigation bioassays were performed on Sarcoptes mites collected from experimentally infected pigs. For contact bioassays, essential oils were diluted with paraffin to get concentrations at 10, 5, and even 1% for the most efficient ones. The mites were inspected under a stereomicroscope 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, 150, and 180min after contact. For fumigation bioassay, a filter paper was treated with 100 μL of the pure essential oil. The mites were inspected under a stereomicroscope for the first 5min, and then every 5min until 1h.

Results: Using contact bioassays, 1% clove and palmarosa oil killed all the mites within 20 and 50min, respectively. The oils efficacy order was: clove > palmarosa > geranium > tea tree > lavender > manuka > bitter orange > eucalyptus > Japanese cedar. In fumigation bioassays, the efficacy order was: tea tree > clove > eucalyptus > lavender > palmarosa > geranium > Japanese cedar > bitter orange > manuka. In both bioassays, cade oil showed no activity.

Conclusion: Essential oils, especially tea tree, clove, palmarosa, and eucalyptus oils, are potential complementary or alternative products to treat S. scabiei infections in humans or animals, as well as to control the mites in the environment.

Keywords: Contact; Essential oils; Fumigation bioassay; Sarcoptes scabiei.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acaricides / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Biological Assay
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Oils, Volatile / analysis
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Sarcoptes scabiei / drug effects*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Swine


  • Acaricides
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils