Can the tea tree oil (Australian native plant: Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel) be an alternative treatment for human demodicosis on skin?

Parasitology. 2018 Oct;145(12):1510-1520. doi: 10.1017/S0031182018000495. Epub 2018 Apr 18.


Australian tea tree oil (TTO) and its extract terpinen-4-ol (T4O) are found to be effective in moderating demodex-related diseases. Their possible effects are lowering the mite counts, relieving the demodex-related symptoms and modulating the immune system especially the inflammatory response. This review summarizes the topical treatments of TTO and T4O in human demodicosis, their possible mechanism of actions, side-effects and potential resistance in treating this condition. Although current treatments other than TTO and T4O are relatively effective in controlling the demodex mite population and the related symptoms, more research on the efficacy and drug delivery technology is needed in order to assess its potential as an alternative treatment with minimal side-effect profile, low toxicity and low risk of demodex resistance.

Keywords: Demodex brevis; Demodex follicularium; Demodicosis; rosacea; tea tree oil; terpinen-4-ol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Melaleuca / chemistry*
  • Mite Infestations / drug therapy*
  • Mite Infestations / parasitology
  • Mites / physiology*
  • Skin / parasitology
  • Tea Tree Oil / chemistry
  • Tea Tree Oil / isolation & purification
  • Tea Tree Oil / pharmacology*
  • Terpenes / chemistry
  • Terpenes / isolation & purification
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*


  • Terpenes
  • terpinenol-4
  • Tea Tree Oil