What is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is a type of an essential oil that comes with camphor-like scent and color ranges from pale yellow to colorless. There is a great difference between tea tree oil and tea oil. Tea tree oil can be toxic if taken orally, but is widely used in manufacturing cosmetic products in low concentrations. It has been in medical use in treating several conditions due to its antimicrobial properties. When applied topically, it helps fight skin conditions such as lice, acne, dandruff, fungal infections, ear infections, vaginal infections, toothaches, and herpes among others.
Where does it Come from?
Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of a native plant to Southeast Queensland and the Northeast Coast called melaleuca alternifolia. Its name came from eighteenth century sailors from the swampy southeast Australia coast who prepared tea with a nutmeg scent from the leaves of the tea tree. It has also been used for hundreds of years in treating insect bites and sore throat. Some people use it to treat* bronchial congestion, pulmonary inflammation and cough by adding it to bath water.
What are its Possible Health Benefits?
Credit to its antimicrobial properties, tea tree oil, is considered to be effective in fighting bacterial, fungal and viral infections. It possibly helps to treat* conditions like:
- Fungus Infections: When applied topically twice daily for a few months, 100% tea tree oil solution can help treat* toenail infection in some of its users.
- Athlete’s Foot: According to studies, topical use of tea tree oil eases symptoms associated with athlete’s foot, such as itching, scaling, inflammation and burning* sensation.
- Acne: Although there is no concrete evidence, tea tree oil can help fight acne. However, it may take longer to work although it doesn’t cause much irritation to the skin. Studies have shown that tea tree oil reduces* severity and symptoms of acne when applied topically in less* than two months.
- It can be a possible remedy for other conditions like bad breath, dental plague, ringworms, scabies, cold sores, vaginal infections, and hemorrhoids among others.
What are the Potential Side Effects of Tea Tree Oil?
Although it is considered to be safe, tea tree oil can cause irritation or swelling in some people when applied topically. If you have a sensitive skin that is prone to acne, use of tea tree oil can trigger adverse side effects including redness, stinging, dryness or burning*. Young boys who are yet to reach puberty should avoid the use of tea tree oil along with lavender oil as its effects on hormones can make them susceptible to acne. Another side effect of tea tree oil in young boys is the development of abnormal breast. In addition, it can cause mouth dryness, confusion, walking difficulties, skin rashes or coma when taken orally.
Recommended Doses and Timing for Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil should only be applied topically. Concentrations may vary depending on the condition being addressed. To treat* nail fungus, use 100% tea tree oil solution twice every day for up to six months. For athlete’s foot, the recommended dosage is 25% or 50% of tea tree oil solution twice every day for a month. Alternatively, use 10% tea tree oil cream twice daily for one month. Apply 5% tea tree oil gel every day if you are fighting acne. Always remember to check the label and adhere to manufacturer’s recommendations on timing and dosage.
Uses of Tea Tree Oil in Supplements
Tea tree oil is a common ingredient in most natural cosmetic and anti-aging products available in the market. These products contain tea tree oils in different concentrations to fit the needs of every skin type. It is important to know your skin type before trying out any of these supplements containing tea tree oil. Tea tree oil use in cosmetic supplements helps deal with skin problems such as acne, rashes, ringworms, age spots, dark spots, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and fine lines among others.
Tea Tree Oil Interactions
There are no known tea tree oil interactions at the moment. However, you should be cautious when using it along with other beauty products. It may react with other ingredients and worsen the condition of your skin. Also don’t take it by mouth or use it on a broken skin like a wound as its absorption into the body can be potentially toxic.
Tea tree oil appears to be an important ingredient to look for in any product that is used topically. It has strong antimicrobial properties which are beneficial in maintaining a healthy skin. Unless taken orally, topical use of tea tree oil is considered safe for every skin type. However, it may trigger adverse reactions when combined with other products or on sensitive skin types. Although previous studies have shown tea tree oil to be effective in treating certain conditions, more research is still required to ascertain its safety and effectiveness in handling other issues.