Dermal toxicity of repeated application of citronella oil as an insect repellant

Date of Completion


Document Type


Degree Name

Clinical Pharmacology


Plants Oil, Citronella Oil, Insect Repellants


This study aimed to determine the dermal toxicity of citronella oil on repeated application when used as an insect repellent. Test substance used was Citronella oil made from vanillin and cymbopogon winterianus (citronella) leaf essential oil. For toxicological evaluation, the researchers used 16 healthy guinea pigs with average weight of 334.40 grams. Twelve guinea pigs were equally divided by dose, each group composed of two (2) female and two (2) males, and were repeatedly exposed to topical citronella oil in 3 different doses for a period of 14 days while two (2) pairs were used as controls. All subjects and controls were graded based on Draize-FHSA scoring system (edema and erythema formation) and Primary Irritation Index. Dermal toxicity was seen on all doses with varying degree of skin irritation. Test subjects repeatedly exposed 2000 mg/kg citronella developed erythema with computed PII of 1.22, slightly irritating. Subjects on 2500 mg/kg dose developed erythema with computed PII of 1.52, slightly irritating. No edema was noted on subjects on 2000 and 2500 mg/kg dose. Subjects on 3000 mg/kg dose developed erythema and one (1) subject developed edema with computed PII of 2.03, moderately irritating. Control showed no signs of dermal irritation with PII of 0.0, non-irritating. Citronella oil may cause a cumulative toxicity to the skin. The results have clearly demonstrated that continuous application of citronella oil caused significant erythema and edema.

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