Oil of bitter orange: new topical antifungal agent

Int J Dermatol. 1996 Jun;35(6):448-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4362.1996.tb03032.x.


Background: Superficial dermatophyte infection is one of the most common dermatologic diseases. Some of these infections are extremely resistant to therapy.

Methods and patients: Sixty patients participated in this study; they were classified into three groups (20 patients in each). All groups had comparable numbers of patients with tinea corporis, cruris, and pedis. Group 1 was treated with a 25% emulsion of oil of bitter orange (OBO) three times daily; group 2 was treated with 20% OBO in alcohol three times daily and group 3 was treated with pure OBO, once daily. Clinical and mycologic examinations were performed before therapy and every week until a complete cure had occurred.

Results: In group 1, 80% of patients were cured in 1 to 2 weeks and 20% in 2 to 3 weeks. In group 2, 50% were cured in 1 to 2 weeks, 30% in 2 to 3 weeks and 20% in 3 to 4 weeks. In group 3, 25% of patients did not continue the trial. Of the remaining patients, 33.3% were cured in one week, 60% in 1 to 2 weeks, and 6.7% in 2 to 3 weeks. Oil of bitter orange produced no side effects except mild irritation seen with the use of the pure form.

Conclusions: An in vitro study showed that OBO (natural product) exerts fungistatic and fungicidal activity against a variety of pathogenic dermatophyte species. It is a promising, cheap, and available topical antifungal therapeutic agent.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Antifungal Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Arthrodermataceae / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Tinea / drug therapy*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Plant Oils
  • orange oil