Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is a type of essential oil that has a fresh camphoraceous odor. It’s also one of those substances that a number of health bloggers love right now and recommend for… all kinds of stuff.
Which isn’t to say you’re meant to eat it. You definitely are not – tea tree oil is actually toxic when used orally. However, it is found in low concentrations in all manner of skin products and you can use it yourself to potentially treat a number of issues.
This is because tea tree is somewhat antimicrobial and can therefore kill bacteria and potentially infections.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that tea tree oil gets recommended for and whether or not it can be useful in those contexts.
Skin tags, technically known as ‘acrochordons’, are small flaps of skin that often appear in areas of the body that experience lots of friction such as the armpits and the neck. They look a little like warts but are the same color and texture as the rest of your skin.
Fortunately, skin tags aren’t harmful and will disappear on their own after a while. The problem though is when you get a skin tag on your chin, your eyelid or your breast – not attractive! So how do you get rid of it?
Well, one option is to try tea tree oil. Simply dab some onto the end of a cotton bud and apply directly to the skin tag. You don’t need to add it around the area, only directly to the tag itself.
There are several reports online of this working and it should take around 17 days if those reports are to be believed. However, there’s also no guarantee and it’s not obvious how this might work. Then again, it’s not completely understood why acrochordons form either and tea tree oil does have astringent properties.
All in all, it’s worth a try and especially if you’re squeamish of the thought of snipping them off and causing some blood…
Some people also recommend tea tree oil for acne, in which case the terpinen-4-ol found in the substance is thought to kill off bacteria, as well as penetrating into the skin in order to prevent whiteheads and acne.
As an astringent, tea tree oil is also able to remove dead skin cells, a little bit like using a very mild peel. For this reason, you can actually find tea tree oil in a number of skin care products but buying it directly yourself is likely a more cost-effective option.
To use this, apply it to the skin and leave it for a couple of hours to sink in. Do it just before bed and let it sink in overnight. You should find that after a while, it starts to leave the skin looking less red and angry. Make sure to wash the skin first!
I wouldn’t recommend using this too often, at least to begin with. Potentially, tea tree oil could be helpful but it might also risk drying you out – so start slow to begin with.
There are many different solutions for acne and really there’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ approach. It can’t hurt to try this one though, so if you’re at your wit’s end, give it a go!
According to some users, tea tree oil can also be used to treat ringworm.
Ringworm is an unpleasant condition that causes the appearance of small circular marks on the skin that appear like ‘worms’ at first glance. In fact, the marks are caused by microscopic fungi and is normally self-limiting within three months.
Unfortunately, it’s also highly contagious and can be very upsetting as a result. This is why it would be fantastic if it were treatable with something like tea tree oil. Sadly, it’s unlikely that tea tree oil would be strong enough to help treat a condition that can be very stubborn. You’re much better off speaking with your doctor and using the topical creams that they recommend in order to solve the issue quickly and effectively while sparing your family.
Some people even suggesting using tea tree oil for herpes and again, it’s very unlikely this would have any real effect.
Tea tree oil is mildly antibacterial, antifungal and astringent… but it is not a miracle cure. If you have a mild skin complaint it might be worth a try but for anything more serious – speak with your doctor!