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Tea tree oil has a long history of traditional use as a topical antiseptic and for other purposes. It is generally accepted that the antibacterial activity of tea tree oil is due to the presence of terpenoids, mainly terpinene-4-ol.
Tea tree oil may act by impairing the ability of P. acnes to form cell-cell junctions, thereby impeding the aggregation and growth of bacteria into viable colonies. While tea tree oil is an essential component of many over-the-counter acne preparations, its use in non-prescription products is not standardized. For this reason, it isn’t easy to make broad statements about safety or efficacy regarding its use on the skin. Nonetheless, data demonstrate that tea tree oil can be toxic to cells when applied at high concentrations for extended periods. So, let’s know how to use it appropriately for maximum benefits.
What do the experts say about tea tree oil and acne?
Many studies are done, which leads to conclude that tea tree oil is an effective acne treatment.
In a study done in 2006, researchers looked at the effectiveness of 5% tea tree oil gel versus 1% clindamycin gel (a topical antibiotic) and placebo in reducing the number of inflamed lesions in people with mild to moderate facial acne vulgaris. After eight weeks, there were significant reductions in the number of inflammatory lesions on the face treated with either 5% tea tree oil or 1% clindamycin compared with placebo. The concentrations used did not produce cytotoxicity to human fibroblast cells even after prolonged periods of incubation. This suggests that tea tree oil can be applied to the face without adverse effects.
In another study done in 2013, researchers compared a 5% tea tree oil gel with a 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion and placebo in the treatment of mild to moderate acne vulgaris over four weeks. At 2 and 4 weeks, both test medications were significantly better than placebo for treating inflammatory and noninflammatory lesions and reducing overall lesion count. There was no significant difference between the two treatments on any endpoints. This study demonstrates that tea tree oil can provide comparable benefits as benzoyl peroxide for acne treatment without the latter’s potential disadvantages (e.g., skin irritation).
The studies mentioned above show that tea tree oil is an effective alternative to other topical acne treatments. However, more clinical trials are required to confirm these findings.
It is prudent to avoid contact with the eyes and other sensitive areas when applying tea tree oil not to overwhelm or irritate damaged skin.
Use this treatment only on affected areas of the skin 2-3 times daily, unless otherwise directed by your physician.
How does tea tree oil work for acne?
Topically applied tea tree oil has antibacterial properties against Propionibacterium (P.) acnes, an organism that contributes to pustule formation seen in inflammatory acne lesions. The antimicrobial activity of tea tree oil seems due mainly to terpinen-4-ol, which may act by impairing P. acnes’ ability to form cell-cell junctions, thereby impeding its aggregation and growth into viable colonies.
Is there anything I should know before using tea tree oil?
There are no contraindications to the topical application of tea tree oil in recommended doses for acne. Still, it is prudent to avoid contact with the eyes and other sensitive areas when applying it not to overwhelm or irritate damaged skin. It has also been suggested that zinc salts be used cautiously with tea tree oil.
What about the side effects of using tee tree oil? Are there any?
- Tea tree oil in unadulterated form is known to be non-irritant and non-sensitizing in humans. There have been few reports of irritation or sensitization when tea tree oil is used topically in therapeutic concentrations.
- When applied to open wounds, tea tree oil may cause pain or irritation. When used in an undiluted form on the skin of sensitive individuals, it has been associated with allergic contact dermatitis. However, allergies are not a significant concern when tea tree oil is adequately prepared in topical formulations.
- Tea tree oil may interfere with wound healing. It should be avoided by people who have acute wounds or other skin conditions involving broken skin until more information is known about its safety.
- Although tea tree oil may help reduce acne lesions by killing P. acnes, there’s little evidence that it works any better than conventional treatments when applied to the skin.
More clinical trials are necessary before prescribing this treatment can be recommended more strongly.
It should also be used cautiously on broken skin or open wounds because it may irritate, cause pain at these sites and delay healing.
Advantages of Using Tea Tree Oil for Acne:
Tea tree oil has been used for thousands of years to treat various conditions and is effective in treating acne.
It’s available over the counter, doesn’t require a doctor visit, and is non-irritating and non-sensitizing to the skin if adequately prepared for topical use.
Tea Tree Oil vs. Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne Treatment
Although good data demonstrate that tea tree oil possesses antimicrobial activity against P. acnes, this effect does not appear to be superior to other topical therapies when tested head-to-head in patients with mild or moderate acne vulgaris.
Based on available clinical trial data comparing tea tree oil to benzoyl peroxide, it is likely that both are equally effective.
However, the antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil may provide an added benefit not offered by benzoyl peroxide or other topical therapies alone.
Because benzoyl peroxide has demonstrated irritant potential, individuals inclined to use a topical acne preparation with antimicrobial activity should consider using tea tree oil as another treatment option for their acne lesions.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne – Step by Step Guide
Tea tree oil may be used in one of three ways for acne treatment:
- A 5% topical gel or cream can be rubbed into the skin over the affected areas twice daily. Some people find that rinsing their face with water after applying tea tree oil helps prevent adverse reactions such as stinging, tingling, or redness.
- As an acne scrub ingredient, mix it with other ingredients like jojoba oil, brown sugar, and sea salt before rubbing it onto the skin once per day.
- By diluting it 1:5 (20 drops of oil to 1 oz of carrier) with olive or almond oil. The solution should then be applied to the skin once per day or as needed.
What is the recommended dosage for tea tree oil for acne?
Tea tree oil is available as a standardized product containing 5 percent to 15 percent terpinen-4-ol. This typically requires 0.5 mL to 1.0 mL daily application of a 5 percent tea tree oil formulation or 2.0 mL daily application of a 10 percent tea tree oil formulation to the entire face, neck, and chest. However, many over-the-counter preparations contain much less than their labelled concentration, so individuals may wish to test different concentrations before selecting which one works best with their skin type.
I have cystic acne. Will it work on that?
Yes, there are numerous examples in the clinical literature demonstrating that 5 percent to 10 percent tea tree oil formulations can be used safely and effectively to treat acne vulgaris, including cystic acne. Although studies have not been explicitly conducted on cystic acne, many people report anecdotally that topical tea tree oil reduces the inflammation associated with these lesions.
What Precautions should be taken when using Tea Tree Oil for Acne?
Tea tree oil can cause skin irritation, mainly if applied excessively or on broken skin, such as wounds, abrasions, scars, or stretch marks.
Individuals with dry or sensitive skin may wish to apply it once every other day until their skin adjusts. In addition, tea tree oil can cause contact dermatitis when used on broken skin, so care should be taken to cover the area with bandages after applying topical preparations containing tea tree oil.
What do you need to know when purchasing tea tree oil?
However, many products labelled “tea tree oil” are not 100% pure tea tree oil. Instead, they often contain significantly lower concentrations (0.5 percent to 4 percent terpinen-4-ol) or other ingredients like eucalyptus oil.
Before purchasing tea tree oil for acne treatment, individuals should verify that the product contains at least 5 percent terpinen-4-ol by checking the label on the bottle or asking their pharmacist to confirm this information.
What are the other natural treatments for acne?
Many people have reported success in treating acne with other natural remedies, including
- Aloe vera gel: Used for centuries as a topical treatment for inflammatory skin conditions, aloe vera may be applied to the face or affected areas twice daily to help soothe and heal acne lesions.
- Apple cider vinegar: This natural remedy is purported to improve the appearance of scars and other blemishes by balancing pH levels in the body and reducing sebum production.
- Chamomile tea: This herbal tea contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help calm irritated skin and reduce inflammation. In addition, it is helpful as a spot treatment for breakouts by acting as a germ-killing agent.
- Coconut oil: Many people recommend applying coconut oil to skin that has been affected by acne lesions and then rinsing it off with water before bedtime. This can be repeated for several weeks until the acne clears up.
- Baking soda: A common ingredient in many home remedies, baking soda is applied to the skin to help minimize oiliness and inflammation. It also may be combined with apple cider vinegar for enhanced benefits.
- Green Tea: Frequently consumed as a beverage, green tea also may be applied topically to help reduce oiliness and inflammation.
- Lemon juice: Known for its astringent properties, which make it an excellent skin clarifier and natural acne remedy, lemon juice is best used in conjunction with other topical treatments.
- Rosewater: Often used in skincare products due to its soothing effects, rosewater also may be applied topically to help improve the appearance of acne lesions.
- Raw honey: This natural remedy is believed to improve acne by controlling sebum production. However, it should not be used on broken skin, leading to infection or other complications.
- Saltwater: Saltwater is frequently used as a skin cleanser and rinsed off before being followed by another beneficial topical acne treatment.
Shall I visit a skin doctor if tea tree oil does not work?
If you are experiencing moderate to severe acne, it is advisable to consult with a dermatologist or skin doctor before using tea tree oil. If your predisposition is for oily skin, the use of the right cleanser and topical therapy can reduce or prevent future breakouts. Products that help regulate sebum production are available over-the-counter in most health food stores.
Some individuals may find that their acne resolves with tea tree oil, but they still experience occasional breakouts. If you are using products containing tea tree oil and still experiencing breakouts, it is well worth your time to consult with a dermatologist or skin doctor for an in-depth evaluation. You can also consider meeting a homeopathic doctor in case you are suffering from acne.
Homeopathic acne treatment:
Homeopathic treatment can be helpful for individuals suffering from acne, including those with moderate to severe cases. Individuals considering homeopathic treatment should seek the advice of a licensed practitioner who can provide an in-depth diagnosis and recommend individualized remedies that are most likely to work. Homeopathic treatment for acne does not have any side effects and is a safe method of treatment.
Tea tree oil is a safe, effective treatment option for mild to moderate acne vulgaris when used within recommended concentrations. Even though there are positive reports of tea tree oil for acne, it can cause skin irritations more frequently than benzoyl peroxide, meaning that you have to find the right concentration that works well on your skin type. Additionally, if you have scarring from severe cystic acne, it may take more extended periods of regular topical application before any improvement becomes visible. Also, note that many people using essential oils obtain quicker results when using a unique diffuser that allows the oil to be dispersed into the air and inhaled. For more information and to consult a skin doctor, you can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy!