Tea Tree Oil and Skin
Over the years, there has been one skin condition most famously treated by tea tree essential oil: acne. In one widely cited study, a 5% solution of tea tree oil was compared to a 5% solution of benzoyl peroxide, an antibacterial compound found in many prescription and over-the-counter anti-acne medications. Although the tea tree oil worked slower, it cleared pimples and blackheads as well as the benzoyl peroxide, and did so with fewer side effects such as skin burning, peeling, and itching. Benzoyl peroxide also can cause severe allergic reactions in rare cases, which might include swelling of the breathing passage and dizziness. Tea tree oil gives you comparable benefits without the risk of these severe side effects, although it should be noted that 100% pure tea tree oil can cause minor skin irritation in some people, which is why dilutions are typically used for acne.
Rashes, eczema, and psoriasis: tea tree oil can be used on skin rashes, and is especially effective if the rash is caused by a fungus. The antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties of the oil allow it to keep skin healthy. People who suffer from eczema and psoriasis also use tea tree oil topically. The oil fosters a balance between dry and oily skin.
Warts: one study showed that applying tea tree oil topically once a day for twelve days resulted in eradicating warts.
Cuts and wound healing: once again, the antiseptic qualities of tea tree oil help prevent skin infection and promote healing.
Tea Tree Oil and Hair
Dandruff and itchy scalp: tea tree oil can provide relief for people with dandruff or itchy, flaky scalp. This is why tea tree oil shampoo is an extremely common item. Some of these shampoos contain only oil from the tea tree, while some contain other essential oils as well, such as lavender oil. Many people also buy 100% pure tea tree oil and add two to four drops to their shampoo at home.
Head lice: natural tea tree oil is a popular remedy for head lice because it is strong enough to kill lice, but it does not contain the harsh chemicals that other commercial lice treatments do.
Other Ailments Treated by Tea Tree Essential Oil
Halitosis (bad breath): the antiseptic properties of tea tree oil make it ideal for mouthwash or even toothpaste. Many people rinse with a 5% solution of tea tree oil, but be sure to never swallow it.
Athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, candidiasis (yeast infection): there is evidence that pure tea tree oil can reduce the symptoms of athlete’s foot, presumably due to the essential oil’s anti-fungal nature. Researchers have discovered that tea tree oil is as effective as clotrimazole (also known as the brands Lotrimin and Mycelex) in treating toenail fungus. The oil of the tea tree also is useful in combating candidiasis and other yeast infections.
Tea tree oil also has been used to treat cold symptoms and cold sores. In one exploration of the oil’s effect on cold sores, a 6% aqueous gel preparation was applied to problem areas of people experiencing cold sore outbreaks. The tea tree oil product was as effective as more expensive topical treatments often given to cold sore sufferers.
Bassett IB, Pannowitz DL, Barnetson RS. A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. Med J Austral. 1990; 153:455-8.
Tong MM, Altman PM, Barnetson RS. Tea tree oil in the treatment of tinea pedis. Australia J Dermatol. 1992; 33:145-9.
Carson CF, et al. Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil gel (6%) for the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2001; 48:450-1.
Satchell AC, et al. Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo.J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002; 47(6):852-5.
Buck DS, Nidorf DM, Addino JG. Comparison of two topical preparations for the treatment of onychomycosis: Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and clotrimazole. J Fam Pract. 1994; 38:601-5.
Millar BC, Moore JE. Successful topical treatment of hand warts in a paediatric patient with tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia). Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2008 Nov; 14(4):225-7.
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