Essential Oils for Treatment for Onychomycosis: A Mini-Review


Onychomycosis are fungal infections affecting finger and toenails mainly caused by dermatophyte fungi and some Candida species. Low cure rates and frequent recurrence, development of a fungal resistance front to various antimicrobial agents topical and systemic, and an ineffective topical treatment make onychomycosis difficult to treat. Essential oils are excellent candidates for the topical treatment for onychomycosis because the development of resistance by fungi is rare, and the presence of side effects is low. They are composed of a complex variety of compounds, mainly terpenes, with low molecular weight, which may easily penetrate into the nail plate, finding the fungi elements. The complex mixture confers a broad antifungal spectrum of action, through interaction with biological membranes, interference in radical and enzymatic reaction of fungi cells. Essential oils may become the source of new therapeutic molecules, and the use of an essential oil incorporated into a topical formulation is an interesting, safe, and effective alternative for the treatment for onychomycosis. However, studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy of essential oils in the treatment for onychomycosis in vivo. This mini-review aims to present the potential use of essential oils for the treatment for onychomycosis, focusing on the last decade.

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Fernanda thanks to Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento Pessoal de Ensino Superior (CAPES), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), and to Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS) for her scholarship. In addition, the authors thank to Susan Reid for English support.

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Correspondence to Cristiane de B. da Silva.

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Flores, F.C., Beck, R.C.R. & da Silva, C.B. Essential Oils for Treatment for Onychomycosis: A Mini-Review. Mycopathologia 181, 9–15 (2016).

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  • Essential oil
  • Onychomycosis
  • Antifungal
  • Topic treatment
  • Terpenes