Eucalyptus Oil Enhances Antiseptic Effect of CHG

Chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) is a widely used skin antiseptic, however it poorly penetrates the skin, limiting its efficacy against microorganisms residing beneath the surface layers of skin. Karpanen, et al. (2010) sought to improve the delivery of CHG when used as a skin antiseptic. Their research was published in BMC Infectious Diseases.

The researchers applied chlorhexidine to the surface of donor skin and its penetration and retention under different conditions was evaluated. Skin penetration studies were performed on full-thickness donor human skin using a Franz diffusion cell system. Skin was exposed to 2 percent (w/v) CHG in various concentrations of eucalyptus oil (EO) and 70 percent (v/v) isopropyl alcohol (IPA). The concentration of CHG (microgram/mg of skin) was determined to a skin depth of 1500 micrometers by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

Karpanen, et al. (2010) report that the 2 percent (w/v) CHG penetration into the lower layers of skin was significantly enhanced in the presence of EO. Ten percent (v/v) EO in combination with 2 percent (w/v) CHG in 70 percent (v/v) IPA significantly increased the amount of CHG which penetrated into the skin within 2 minutes.

The researchers conclude that the delivery of CHG into the epidermis and dermis can be enhanced by combination with EO, which in turn may improve biocide contact with additional microorganisms present in the skin, thereby enhancing antisepsis.

Reference: Karpanen TJ, Conway BR, Worthington T, Hilton AC, Elliott T and Lambert PA. Enhanced chlorhexidine skin penetration with eucalyptus oil. BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:278doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-278.