Combination of Essential Oil of Melaleuca alternifolia and Iodine in the Treatment of Molluscum Contagiosum in Children

March 2012 | Volume 11 | Issue 3 | Original Article | 349 | Copyright © March 2012

MCV has not been successfully cultured, hampering in vitro studies. A few reports of antiviral activity of TTO have been reported.43-45 Tea tree oil added at non-cytotoxic concentrations (0.003%) to African Green Monkey Kidney (RC-37) cell cultures inhibited propagation of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-I) by over 98% in a viral plaque reduction assay,43 demonstrating strong inhibition of a complex enveloped virus in vitro. The authors conclude that free virus appeared to be very sensitive to the antiviral effects of TTO. The reduced infectivity of virus after incubation with TTO suggests that TTO may bind to virion envelope structures or may mask viral components necessary for adsorption or entry into host cells, but the exact mechanism is not known. It is unclear if these findings in culture relate in part or at all to the mechanism of action in this present clinical study. A clinical report of topical TTO against common hand warts caused by HPV has also appeared.45
The speed of action of TTO-I and a lack of generalized inflammation associated with its use suggested that the mixture was not acting as a generalized immune stimulant (e.g., Aldara), but rather may act more directly to inhibit viral propagation in some manner as discussed above. Furthermore, the apparent lack of a generalized toxicity to the skin in this study suggests that TTO-I was not acting by means of non-specific tissue destruction. The skin permeation effects of TTO are fairly limited,48,49 however, there are components with significant lipophillicity.46 The mechanism underlying the synergy between TTO and iodine demonstrated in this study is unclear. It may relate to enhanced penetration of iodine into superficial layers of skin by the TTO or some other as yet unidentified interaction.
The results of this study suggest that tea tree oil and organically bound iodine in combination are efficacious and safe in the topical treatment of MC in children.


This work was supported by intramural funding from the Center for Biomedical Research, Inc. Boise, ID. The authors gratefully acknowledge the generous help and support of Dr. Richard Olson of the Boise VA Medical Center.


The authors have no relevant conflicts of interest to disclose.


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