The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory potential of natural, plant-derived compounds has been reported in many studies. Emerging evidence indicates that plant-derived essential oils and/or their major compounds may represent a plausible alternative treatment for acne, a prevalent skin disorder in both adolescent and adult populations. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to develop and subsequently analyze the antimicrobial activity of a new multi-agent, synergic formulation based on plant-derived antimicrobial compounds (i.e., eugenol, β-pinene, eucalyptol, and limonene) and anti-inflammatory agents for potential use in the topical treatment of acne and other skin infections. The optimal antimicrobial combinations selected in this study were eugenol/β-pinene/salicylic acid and eugenol/β-pinene/2-phenoxyethanol/potassium sorbate. The possible mechanisms of action revealed by flow cytometry were cellular permeabilization and inhibition of efflux pumps activity induced by concentrations corresponding to sub-minimal inhibitory (sub-MIC) values. The most active antimicrobial combination represented by salycilic acid/eugenol/β-pinene/2-phenoxyethanol/potassium sorbate was included in a cream base, which demonstrated thermodynamic stability and optimum microbiological characteristics.
Keywords: acne; antimicrobial; eucalyptol; eugenol; limonene; plant-derived compounds; β-pinene.