Susceptibility of transient and commensal skin flora to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil)

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Abstract

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the susceptibility of a range of transient and commensal skin nora to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia, or tea tree.Methods: A modified broth microdilution method was used, Polyoxethylene sorbitan mono-oleate detergent was added to the test medium to enhance solubility of the tea treeResults: Serratia marcescens had the lowest minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC(90)) of 0.25%. The highest MIC(90) was 3% for Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The lowest minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC(90)) was 0.25% for S. marcescens and Klebsiella pneumoniae, whereas the highest was 8% for Staphylococcus capitis.Conclusions: S. aureus and most of the gram-negative bacteria tested were more susceptible to tea tree oil than the coagulase-negative staphylococci and micrococci. These results suggest that tea tree oil may be useful in removing transient skin flora while suppressing but maintaining resident flora.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-189
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1996

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