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Does South Africa Hold the Key to Alternative Treatments for Resistant Dermatophyte Infections?


Dermatophyte infections are becoming increasingly prevalent in humans. Limited availability of antifungal agents and the increasing number of treatment failures have motivated research for therapeutic alternatives, which can be developed as potential antifungal agents. Medicinal plant extracts have been proposed as alternative treatments and scientists are seeking medicinal plant species that could be developed into medicines for various skin diseases including fungal skin infections. South Africa has a rich diversity of indigenous medicinal plants with dermatological therapeutic relevance.


This study aimed to review research that have documented the use of medicinal plants indigenous to South Africa in the treatment of fungal skin infections with a view to identify plants with the potential for further therapeutic development.


Computerized literature searches were performed on databases MEDLINE, SCOPUS, GOOGLE SCHOLAR, MEDLINE EBSCOHOST, SCIENCE DIRECT, Global

Electronic Thesis and Dissertations (ETD) and South African National ETD.


Fifteen medicinal extracts were identified as having significant antifungal activity. This is of significant importance as most fungal pathogens are developing resistance to conventional synthetic antifungal agents.


This review identified a diversity of South African medicinal plant species which have the potential to be developed for the treatment of fungal skin infections. These medicinal plants offer a safe alternative to synthetic antifungals currently used, particularly since they are less toxic, readily available, and are supported by indigenous and traditional knowledge systems.

South Africa has medicinal plants which could effectively treat fungal skin infections.

Fifteen medicinal plants displayed broad-spectrum antifungal properties.

These medicinal plants can potentially replace the currently synthetic conventional antifungals.