Enhanced chlorhexidine skin penetration with eucalyptus oil

Tarja J Karpanen, Barbara R Conway, Tony Worthington, Anthony C Hilton, Tom S J Elliott, Peter A Lambert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chlorhexidine digluconate (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. The aim of the current study was to improve the delivery of chlorhexidine digluconate (CHG) when used as a skin antiseptic.

Chlorhexidine was applied 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% (w/v) CHG in various concentrations of eucalyptus oil (EO) and 70% (v/v) isopropyl alcohol (IPA). The concentration of CHG (µg/mg of skin) was determined to a skin depth of 1500 µm by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

The 2% (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% (w/v) CHG in 70% (v/v) IPA significantly increased the amount of CHG which penetrated into the skin within 2 min.

The delivery of CHG into the epidermis and dermis can be enhanced by combination with EO, which in turn may improve biocide.
Original languageEnglish
Article number278
Pages (from-to)278
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2010

Bibliographical note

© 2010 Karpanen et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • 2-propanol
  • topical administration
  • local anti-infective agents
  • chlorhexidine
  • drug carriers
  • eucalyptus
  • humans
  • monoterpenes
  • volatile oils
  • skin


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