Tea Tree Oil for Acne

It is an essential oil obtained by steam distillation of the leaves of Melaleuca alternifilia, a plant native to Australia. Undiluted tea tree oil is found in health food stores and online. It is also an ingredient in a number for commercial products, such as gels, lotions, creams, toothpaste, mouthwashes and shampoos.

Acne Uses

Tea tree oil contains a constituent called terpinen. It is thought to be responsible for most of tea tree oil’s antimicrobial activity. Because tea tree oil can kill bacteria, applying topical tea tree oil to acne lesions has been thought to destroy Propionibacterium acne. This is skin-dwelling bacteria that are involved in the development of acne.


Tea tree oil is a very popular remedy for acne, although there have been few studies on tea tree oil and acne. A single-blind, randomized study by the Department of Dermatology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia compared the effectiveness and tolerance of five percent tea tree oil gel with five percent benzyl peroxide lotion in 124 people with mild to moderate acne. Both groups of people had a significant reduction in inflamed and non-inflamed acne lesions over a three month period.

Even though the tea tree oil took longer to work initially, there were less side effects with tea tree oil. In the benzyl peroxide group, 79 percent of people had side effects including itching, stinging, burning and dryness. Researchers noted that there were far less side effects in the tea tree oil group. In 2007 a smaller study was conducted, involving 60 people with mild to moderate acne.

They were treated with either a gel containing five percent tea tree oil, or a placebo for 45 days. It was found that the tea tree oil worked better than the placebo in reducing the severity and amount of acne lesions.

Should you apply undiluted oil to acne?

If you apply undiluted tea tree oil to your acne, it may cause skin irritation, redness, blistering, over drying, and itching. The concentration used in studies was a five percent tea tree oil solution, which was applied to acne prone areas. A five percent tea tree oil solution can me made by mixing five parts tea tree oil to 95 parts water.

Commercial Products

There are several new topical acne products that contain tea tree oil. Have a look at the skin care aisle of the health food stores. There should be a selection of topical tea tree oil gels, some containing other herbal antiseptics, such as witch hazel. Another place to look would be the drug store or a cosmetic store. There may be products that combine benzyl peroxide with tea tree oil.

Athlete’s Foot

A randomized controlled trial examined the use of 25 percent tea tree oil solution, 50 percent tea tree oil solution, or placebo in 158 people with athlete’s foot. They applied this, twice daily for four weeks, the two tea tree oil solutions were found to be significantly more effective than placebo.

In the 50 percent tea tree oil group, 64 percent were cured, compared to 31 percent in the placebo group. Four people using the tea tree oil withdrew from the study because they developed dermatitis (which improved after ending tea tree oil use). Otherwise, there were no significant side effects.

Fungal Infection of the toenails

A randomized, controlled trial published in the Journal of Family Practice looked at the twice-daily application of 100 percent tea tree oil or one percent clotrimazole solution (a topical antifungal medication) in 177 people with toenail fungal infection. After six months, the tea tree oil was found to be as effective as the topical antifungal, based on clinical assessment and toenail cultures.

Another randomized, controlled trial examined the effectiveness and safety of a cream containing five percent tea tree oil and two percent butenafine hydrochloride in 60 people with toenail fungal infection. After 16 weeks, 80 percent of people using the cream had significant improvement compared to non in the placebo group. side effect included mild inflammation.

A third double-blind study looked at 100 percent tea tree oil compared with a topical antifungal, clotrimazone, in 112 people with fungal infections of the toenail. The tea tree oil was as effective as the antifungal.


A single-blind study examined the use of five percent tea tree oil shampoo or placebo in 126 people with mild to moderate dandruff. After four weeks, the tea tree oil shampoo significantly reduced symptoms of dandruff.

Home Uses

You can create an all-purpose cleaner. Combine two teaspoons of tea tree oil in two cups of water in a spray bottle. You can also take 14 ounces of water with one ounce of Murphy’s oil soap and ten drops of tea tree oil. Mix these solutions with kosher salt to scrub bathtub and bathroom tiles. Add a few drops to dishwasher dispenser, then fill with a green dishwashing soap. A few drops added to each load of laundry, leave your clothes smelling cleaner.

Control mold with a tea tree oil/water spray. Remove mustiness with that same tea tree oil/water spray. To keep germs at bay, spray it on high chairs, car seats and other high traffic spots. 15 Drops in a quart of water can be effective insect repellent. Be sure to take some with you when hiking and camping to put directly on insect bites or blisters.

Common Uses

Tea tree has a long history of traditional use. Australian aboriginals used tea tree leaves for healing skin cuts, burns, and infections by crushing the leaves and applying them to the effected area. Tea tree oil contains constituents called trapezoids, which have been found to have antiseptic and antifungal activity. The compound terpinen, is the most abundant and is thought to be responsible for most of tea tree oil’s antimicrobial activity.

Popular uses

You may use tea tree oil for the following conditions:

  • Acne.
  • Athlete’s Foot.
  • Fungal Infection of the Toenails.
  • Dandruff.
  • Blackheads.
  • Cystic Acne.
  • Vaginitis.
  • Thrush.
  • Periodontal disease.
  • As an antiseptic.
  • Boils
  • Skin tags.
  • Ringworm.
  • Lice.
  • Eczema.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Yeast Infection.

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