Antifungal Properties Of Lemon

  • Afifah Aslam Doctor of Pharmacy - Pharm D, Jinnah University for Women, Pakistan

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Lemon is scientifically known as Citrus limon and belongs to the family Rutaceae. It is a tree with evergreen leaves and yellow-coloured consumable organic products. Lemon is a natural product, especially the medicinal oil and squeeze acquired from it. The organic product stands apart as having notable wholesome properties and it has remarkable results in cosmetology and phytotherapy. Its essential oil is mixed with sugar to reduce cough. 

Besides, being plentiful in L-ascorbic acid, which helps with warding off infections, the juice is generally used to treat conditions like scurvy, sore throats, fevers, hypertension, and chest discomfort.1Researchers are moving towards the innovation of wider pharmacological use of lemon such as anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial uses.1

What are fungal diseases?

Fungal diseases, or mycosis, are illnesses brought about by the growth of a fungus (like yeast). These diseases are most common on your skin or nails; however, fungal growth can likewise cause infections in your mouth, throat, lungs, urinary tract, and various areas of your body.

Regarding fungal diseases, the most common are brought about by dermatophytes and Candida. Dermatophytes cause ringworm (fungus) and nail growth. Candida is the main cause of yeast disease and oral thrush

What does fungal disease resemble?

Such diseases on or in your skin can make it look red, enlarged, or uneven. They can seem to be a rash or you could see a bump under your skin. In your nails, they can make them look stained (yellow, brown, or white), thick, or fragile. Fungal infections in your mouth or throat can cause a white covering or specks.

Who is most in danger of fungal diseases?

Anybody can get fungal diseases, particularly the ones that affect your skin or nails. Fungal infections are more common in body parts that trap sweat. You're at a higher gamble if you have diabetes or a weakened immune system.

Key components in lemon with antifungal properties

The main components in lemon include flavonoids and different mixtures, like phenolic acids, coumarins, carboxylic acids, amino acids, and ascorbic acid.2

Citric acid

The citrus extract is a carboxyl compound normally present in natural citrus products. The citrus extract showed properties against both the fungal strains Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger. Lemons have mild anti-fungal properties; they principally work by detoxifying the liver as it fends off Candida. Lemon strips have terpenoids that can limit the blend of ergosterol, which is a constituent of the cell wall of fungi and assumes a part in the upkeep of the penetrability of the cell film.3,4 The natural oils extracted from the lemon strip are expected to restrain the development of Candida albicans.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)

Lemons are high in L-ascorbic acid, a supplement that can assist with helping your immune framework. L-ascorbic acid has been known to help the development of our body cells like white blood cells, and platelets, which assist with safeguarding the body against infections and illness. L-ascorbic acid is additionally accessible as an oral enhancement, ordinarily as tablets. 

L-ascorbic acid is a cancer-prevention agent that safeguards your cells against the impacts of free radicals. It has shown inhibitory properties against concentrated fungal strains. It has also been observed that L-ascorbic acid obstructs the hyphae progress in Candida albicans.5


Lemons have numerous dynamic mixtures that are capable of cell reinforcements in the body, including flavonoids, limonoids, kaempferol, quercetin, and ascorbic acid. Anti-oxidant agents are significant in safeguarding cells against chemicals acting as free radicals. At a point when present in enormous amounts, free radicals can harm cells in the body, seriously endangering them by causing persistent sicknesses.6

Essential oil

Essential oils (EOs) are the most encouraging regular items for fungal control. Numerous varieties of EOs obtained from various plants or spices showed extraordinary antifungal properties. The antimicrobial or antifungal action of essential oil may be brought about by the properties of terpenes/terpenoids. Because of their profoundly lipophilic nature and low atomic weight, they are equipped to disturb the cell layer, hindering the sporulation and germination of fungal growths.7,8

Limitations of lemon as anti-fungal

Lemon (Citrus limon), whenever used in the right form and right concentration, acts as a viable antifungal. The development of organisms like Candida albicans can be controlled with lemon juice. Lemon juice, when blended in with turmeric, gives a decent outcome for your skin.

Lemon juice is not known to be an effective antifungal on its own. It is also associated with side effects such as skin irritation and redness if not used properly. 

However lemon does seem to repress the development of contagious microorganisms. So, lemon extract is an easily available antifungal that you should keep in your home medication box.

Side effects of lemon on skin

Lemon has a pH of 2, which is profoundly acidic. This way, when used directly on the skin, it can irritate the skin and aggravate any existing condition. It can cause skin sensitivity when exposed to the sun. It can also cause dryness which can prompt tingling and itching on your skin.

Diagnosis and evaluation

Determination of fungal disease will start with an actual test and a detailed history of your symptoms. Your doctor might take a sample of your skin, a hair test, or a nail cutting for investigation at a lab to evaluate and determine the exact organism causing the condition.

Medical treatment

Numerous parasitic conditions can be relieved with antifungal medicines, which stop the fungus growth in and on your body. The type of medicine your medical care supplier recommends depends upon the organism and the site of infection. A few medicines might be accessible without a prescription (over-the-counter, or OTC), however, it is always recommended to check with your healthcare provider before treating any fungal disease.

Benefits of lemon as an antifungal agent

The following are the different benefits of lemon components:

  • Lemon peel is rich in citric acid and can be used as a thickener, emulsifier, and stabiliser in dairy items. Because of its solidifying properties, it is additionally utilised in drug, dental, and cosmetic preparations
  • Right now, the rejuvenating extract from lemon is used predominantly as an enhancing and regular additive in medicines because of its practical properties (antimicrobial, antifungal, and so forth) 
  • Lemon-based items have been for quite some time credited with treating skin breakouts caused by burns from the sun or mycosis
  • Lemon rejuvenating balm shows anti-microbial and seasoning properties, and consequently, it is used in shampoos, toothpaste, sanitisers, and different beauty care products
  • Lemon rejuvenating balm is additionally used in fragrance-based treatments like back rubs to loosen up muscles and for relaxation and unwinding


Lemon is from the Rutaceae family, also known as Citrus limon, which is an edible product with numerous benefits in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetology industries. Lemon in different forms such as lemon peel, lemon essential oil, lemon juice, etc. is used for various purposes such as muscle relaxants, preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, antifungals, and antimicrobials. 

Lemon has citric acid, vitamin C, and different antioxidants such as flavonoids, etc. that have anti-fungal properties. They hinder fungal growth by affecting the free radicals which affect the fungal cell structure. Lemon essential oil has more potential against fungal growth. Still, there are some complications when lemon is utilised on the skin to eradicate fungus such as skin getting irritated, getting reddish, dry, or burnt so it's very important to first consult your healthcare provider for the fungal infection to avoid such complications. 

Healthcare providers evaluate different aspects and examine the area carefully to diagnose the condition and extent of the fungal disorder. They also do the sampling of the affected area such as nails, skin, etc. to assess the type of fungal growth. Although lemon essential oil has better antifungal properties, still some fungi show resistance and are not completely eradicated by non-pharmacological therapies and need proper pharmacological treatment.


  1. Klimek-Szczykutowicz, Szopa, Ekiert. Citrus limon (Lemon) Phenomenon—A Review of the Chemistry, Pharmacological Properties, Applications in the Modern Pharmaceutical, Food, and Cosmetics Industries, and Biotechnological Studies. Plants [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2024 Mar 21]; 9(1):119. Available from:
  2. Ullah A, Munir S, Badshah SL, Khan N, Ghani L, Poulson BG, et al. Important Flavonoids and Their Role as a Therapeutic Agent. Molecules [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2024 Mar 22]; 25(22):5243. Available from:
  3. Shokri H. Evaluation of inhibitory effects of citric and tartaric acids and their combination on the growth of Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Aspergillus fumigatus, Candida albicans, and Malassezia furfur. Comp Clin Pathol [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2024 Mar 21]; 20(5):543–5. Available from:
  4. Khounganian RM, Alwakeel A, Albadah A, Nakshabandi A, Alharbi S, Almslam AS. The Antifungal Efficacy of Pure Garlic, Onion, and Lemon Extracts Against Candida albicans. Cureus [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Mar 21]. Available from:
  5. Van Hauwenhuyse F, Fiori A, Van Dijck P. Ascorbic Acid Inhibition of Candida albicans Hsp90-Mediated Morphogenesis Occurs via the Transcriptional Regulator Upc2. Eukaryot Cell [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2024 Mar 21]; 13(10):1278–89. Available from:
  6. Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Phcog Rev [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2024 Mar 22]; 4(8):118. Available from:
  7. Nazzaro F, Fratianni F, Coppola R, Feo VD. Essential Oils and Antifungal Activity. Pharmaceuticals [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2024 Mar 21]; 10(4):86. Available from:
  8. Del Prado-Audelo ML, Cortés H, Caballero-Florán IH, González-Torres M, Escutia-Guadarrama L, Bernal-Chávez SA, et al. Therapeutic Applications of Terpenes on Inflammatory Diseases. Front Pharmacol [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 Mar 25]; 12:704197. Available from:

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Afifah Aslam

Doctor of Pharmacy- Pharm D, Jinnah University for Women, Pakistan

Afifah Aslam is a dedicated pharmacist, passionate medical article writer and MBA candidate where she honoring her leadership and strategic skills to further elevate her career.

She embarked on a fulfilling career as a pharmacist, working diligently in various healthcare settings such as in Hospital and Retail sector. Her commitment to patient care, attention to detail, and innovative approach to pharmaceutical solutions made her a trusted figure.

However, her passion for research and desire to share her knowledge with a broader audience led her to the field of medical writing. Her journey exemplifies the power of adaptability, determination, and the pursuit of knowledge and her impact on the healthcare industry, both as a practitioner and a communicator, continues to inspire and shape the future of healthcare.

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