The Therapeutic Potential of Essential Oils in Managing Inflammatory Skin Conditions: A Scoping Review

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Dontje A. E. W. K., Schuiling-Veninga C. C. M., van Hunsel F. P. A. M., Ekhart C., DEMİRCİ F., Woerdenbag H. J.

PHARMACEUTICALS, vol.17, no.5, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/ph17050571
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CAB Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


Conventional therapy is commonly used for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions, but undesirable effects, such as erythema, dryness, skin thinning, and resistance to treatment, may cause poor patient compliance. Therefore, patients may seek complementary treatment with herbal plant products including essential oils (EOs). This scoping review aims to generate a broad overview of the EOs used to treat inflammatory skin conditions, namely, acne vulgaris, dermatitis and eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea, in a clinical setting. The quality, efficacy, and safety of various EOs, as well as the way in which they are prepared, are reviewed, and the potential, as well as the limitations, of EOs for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions are discussed. Twenty-nine eligible studies (case studies, uncontrolled clinical studies, and randomized clinical studies) on the applications of EOs for inflammatory skin conditions were retrieved from scientific electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and the Cochrane Library). As an initial result, tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil emerged as the most studied EO. The clinical studies with tea tree oil gel for acne treatment showed an efficacy with fewer adverse reactions compared to conventional treatments. The uncontrolled studies indicated the potential efficacy of ajwain (Trachyspermum ammi) oil, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) oil, and cedarwood (Cedrus libani) oil in the treatment of acne, but further research is required to reach conclusive evidence. The placebo-controlled studies revealed the positive effects of k & amacr;nuka (Kunzea ericoides) oil and frankincense (Boswellia spp.) oil in the treatment of psoriasis and eczema. The quality verification of the EO products was inconsistent, with some studies lacking analyses and transparency. The quality limitations of some studies included a small sample size, a short duration, and the absence of a control group. This present review underscores the need for extended, well-designed clinical studies to further assess the efficacy and safety of EOs for treating inflammatory skin conditions with products of assured quality and to further elucidate the mechanisms of action involved.