Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil

Best used : AM/PM

Up to twice a day

Caution: Skin irritation common, allergic potentialBest for: Acne, some fungal infections
Comments: Essential,

naturopathic skin care oil

Mode of action: Antibacterial & AntifungalScience Score:***


What is the science behind tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil, known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil. It is derived from steaming the leaves of the Australian tea tree. When used topically, tea tree oil is believed to be antibacterial. Tea tree oil is commonly used to treat acne, athlete’s foot, lice, nail fungus and insect bites. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Its use has been studied in several mainstream dermatology journals for the past 2 decades.

What skin conditions can be treated with tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil that comes from steaming the leaves of the Australian tea tree. This oil has powerful antibacterial & antifungal properties. This oil can treat-

  • Acne – can be effective for blackheads, whiteheads, zits, & pimples
  • Fungal infections or the skin & nails
  • Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis)
  • Lice

*Disclaimer: I am a procedural dermatologist; I do not treat any medical conditions. Most dermatologists will not use tea tree oil for first line therapy, nor second, nor third, nor any. The aim of this write up is to present what naturopathic options are possible. This gives patients a safe guide to ‘have a go’ at DIY OTC prior to seeing a dermatologist. I am indifferent towards alternative medicine, as I am to medical dermatology. 

Can you put tea tree oil on a popped pimple?

Dermatologists discourage people popping pimples because in most cases it’s performed incorrectly. Precisely performed with a sterile needle you can gently apply pressure with cotton swabs but do not dig with your nails. Afterwards dab with tea tree oil which has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. You can also apply a pimple patch to help with healing. Do not overuse as this can lead to inflammation. 

Davin’s ProTip on Tea Tree Oil

This is the number one naturopathic treatment for acne, followed by witch hazel. Tea tree oil (TTO) has been studied by dermatologists for the past two decades, so it is relatively new. There have been several studies documenting the effects of TTO for both inflammatory & non-inflammatory acne, & the results are good. There have been several studies documenting the allergic (as well as irritant) potential of TTO. These studies have shown between <2 to 5% of subjects can be sensitised to TTO. Regardless, the use of botanical extracts has seen a significant surge in the context of skin care, with more ingredients being every year. 

Bottom line? If you must, give it a go. No real harm for the management of non-scarring acne, hell, it may save you a visit to the dermatologist. As always, start slow, test patch & increase as tolerated. For patients with recalcitrant or scarring acne, you may want to consider other treatment options including the use of retinol, retinoids, chemical peels or oral medications. Book in to see one of my colleagues @cutis_dermatology

*Disclaimer: I am a procedural dermatologist, though I have some knowledge of skin care including the management of acne, my work is focused on the management of severe scars, procedures such as surgery, injectables, strong peels, & powerful lasers. 

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