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Antifungal property of tea tree oil in treating fungal infections

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eMediNexus    23 June 2018

Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) has long been used in traditional medicine for wounds and cutaneous infections, as well as to treat several conditions such as empyema, ringworm, paronychia, tonsillitis, stomatitis and vaginal infections.1 Melaleuca alternifolia oil contains ∼100 components, which includes monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and related alcohols. Tea tree oil is a potential topical antifungal agent, with proven efficacy in the treatment of dandruff and oral candidiasis.2 A wide range of yeasts, dermatophytes, and other filamentous fungi have been found to be susceptible to tea tree oil with MICs generally ranging from 0.03 to 0.5%.3

Pregnancy is associated with changes in the lower genital tract, such as hypertrophy of the vaginal walls, increase in blood flow and temperature, increase in non-specific immunity, and vaginal acidity. This can increase the risk of vaginal infections.4 While changes in the acid content prevent the vagina from bacterial infections during pregnancy, the chances of C. albicans infection increase.5 Tea tree oil has been noted to be effective in C. albicans clearance in vaginal infection.1 Di Vito et al demonstrated the efficacy of tea tree oil in eradicating fungal colonization in vaginal candidiasis.6

Considering the antifungal potential of tea tree oil, it seems wise to use it in intimate hygiene products to prevent the development of vaginal infections during pregnancy and after childbirth.

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