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A guide to Tea Tree Oil for acne

ULU Tea tree oil guide

What is tea tree oil?

Also known as melaleuca oil, tea tree oil is an essential oil distilled from the leaves of the Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia (the tea tree). Used topically, in creams, gels and shampoos, it is believed to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is commonly used to treat athlete’s foot, acne, dandruff and nail fungus. These properties have increased the popularity of the oil in recent years, particularly when it comes to skincare.

Girl suffering from acne using tea tree oil

Is tea tree oil good for acne?

Acne is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects up to 80% of the population at some time during their lives. Understandably, severe acne can be associated with depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem, which explains why products that suggest a relief from symptoms are incredibly popular. 

A 2006 study  confirmed that tea tree oil it has both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, explaining why it may help with treating acne.

It is thought that the anti-inflammatory properties of plant can calm the redness and swelling associated with acne and possibly also reduce acne scars.

Meanwhile, its antimicrobial properties prevent the growth of the slow-growing bacteria that is linked to the cause of acne. Tea tree oil is rich in terpinen-4-ol, a volatile oil that is proven to work against Propionibacterium acnes, as discussed in this study.   Teripinen-4-ol is reported to increase the activity of white blood cells which, in turn, helps the body to fight off germs.

A further study, carried out in 2017, tested tea tree oil gel on 14 patients over a 12 week period. Although the study had a small number of participants, their acne lesion counts decreased significantly over time, suggesting that the use of the tea tree oil products reduced mild to moderate acne.

How should I use tea tree oil for acne?

It should always be used topically. It should never be taken orally and can cause problems if swallowed.  You might decide to use a specific tea tree oil face wash, cleanser or toner. Alternatively, purchase 100% undiluted tea tree oil and use as follows:

  • Dilute one to two drops of the oil in around 12 drops of a carrier oil such as coconut oil, almond oil or olive oil.
  • Patch test on your arm to check for skin sensitivity.
  • Make sure your face is clean and dry. Using a cotton wool pad, dab your diluted oil on to blemishes, avoiding the eye area.
  • Follow with moisturiser and repeat morning and evening as part of your daily skincare routine. 

Tea tree oil use guideHow should I care for skin with acne?

It is also important to adopt good skincare habits.

  • avoid picking or squeezing acne lesions. Doing so will only increase inflammation and can cause the acne to spread.
  • Wash morning and evening, removing impurities from the skin.
  • After washing, use tea tree oil or toner and a gentle moisturiser to keep the natural oils in your skin. CBD anti-acne night cream and day creams are a popular choice, with their anti-inflammatory properties and caring oils.

What are the other benefits of tea tree oil?

You might appreciate its other uses. After all, it’s inexpensive to buy and safe when used as directed. Tea tree has been adopted by Aborigines as a traditional medicine for centuries, for many reasons from treating coughs and colds to repelling insects.  Here are just a few of the uses you might find for this product:

Insect repellent

Studies have determined that tea tree oil has repellent effects against certain insects, possibly even working more effectively than certain active ingredients found in popular mosquito repellents.  Tea tree oil can also repel head lice. This study in the International Journal of Dermatology found that tea tree and peppermint oils caused the most repellence from head lice and that tea tree and lavender prevented some blood feeding on treated skin.

General antiseptic

Tea tree oil can be used to disinfect minor cuts, killing the bacteria that go on to cause infections. It’s important to clean the cut first, before applying a diluted mixture of tea tree oil and coconut oil to the skin. Applying tea tree oil to wounds can also accelerate the healing process and reduce inflammation.

Treating nail fungus

Using a few drops of tea tree oil on a fungal nail infection can be beneficial. It’s a popular choice for those who prefer to follow a natural approach instead of opting for more conventional medications. The anti-fungal properties of tea tree oil may also help to alleviate the symptoms of athlete’s foot.

Dandruff control

While research is fairly limited in this area, it has been suggested that tea tree oil can relive the itchiness associated with and the general severity of dandruff. Simply add a few drops of the oil to your shampoo.

In conclusion…

With its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, tea tree oil offers numerous benefits and can be helpful in the prevention and treatment of acne. It should only ever be used topically and applied to the skin in a diluted form. The CBD skincare products for acne treatment also provide sufferers with an effective alternative to chemical based solutions.

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