Plant-sourced oils are nowadays an integral part of most cosmetic shelves. Available in various forms, they not only add therapeutic properties to beauty products but also provide immense health benefits in various disease conditions. One such oil that has become quite popular for its myriad benefits is tea tree oil.

Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of tea tree called Melaleuca alternifolia, which is a native of Australian regions of Queensland, North Coast and New South Wales.

It is an essential oil with an extraordinary potential to treat skin problems. You may be wondering, what an essential oil exactly is? Well, essential oils are basically the essence of its plant source. It is a natural oil that is obtained from the steam distillation process and carries a characteristic odour or smell of the source from where it is obtained. Though not necessarily ingested, these oils are used for dermatologic purposes and aromatherapy. They have a strong calming and soothing effect on the skin and can help you relax, mentally and psychologically.

To extract all the goodness of this camphoraceous scented oil, read the full article.

  1. Tea tree oil benefits
  2. How to use tea tree oil
  3. Tea tree oil side effects

Tea tree oil has been traditionally used by Australian population for almost a century. In recent times, this oil has gained prominence in the herbal and cosmetic market. Available as both pure oil and in combination with other ingredients or oils, it offers a broad range of antimicrobial properties. Due to its strong odour and volatile nature tea tree is used extensively in aromatherapy. It finds household use in incenses, fragrances etc and is also used for the treatment of cold, flu due to its warm nature. Let us explore some of the scientifically proven benefits of tea tree oil.

Tea tree oil for acne

Acne has been a difficult medical condition to pin down with consistent and foolproof treatment. Tea tree oil could fill the void and has already been used copiously for the treatment of acne. In fact, a recent study has shown that it has appreciable better performance in terms of effectivity when compared with benzoyl peroxide, a common chemical agent to treat acne. In the study, 124 patients were divided into two groups. One group was treated with 5%  tea tree oil gel and the other was treated with 5% benzoyl peroxide. Significant reduction in acne symptoms was noted in both groups. Tea tree oil had fewer side effects when compared to benzoyl peroxide. That can only be a good thing, right?

Consequently, tea tree oil is incorporated as the main ingredient in several face cleansers, serums, moisturisers, face masks, creams and lotions for acne reduction.

Tea tree oil for dandruff

If you are somebody who suffers from stubborn dandruff that loves to appear, again and again, tea tree oil shampoo or hair oil could be exactly what the doctor ordered. Dandruff is a fungal infection that predominantly affects the scalp but can also spread to neck, shoulder and forehead regions in severe cases. Tea tree oil has proven antifungal properties. Washing your hair with 5% tea tree oil shampoo can reduce the production of dandruff and provides respite from the itchiness, greasiness associated with this condition.

Next time before buying a shampoo, check the ingredients list to see if tea tree oil makes the cut.

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Tea tree oil for head lice

Having lice can be a nightmare for many. Often people have to apply chemicals like permethrin (a popular insecticide) on the scalp in order to treat the problem. However, the compound itself leads to harmful effects. Additionally, these chemicals also become resistant after a few times of application. Tea tree oil acts as a natural lice repellent. It has been evidenced by research studies that this oil is effective in killing head lice without any side effects. Many preparations of tea tree oil in the form of shampoo and oil are straddling the market space for the same purpose.

(Read more: Head lice treatment)

Tea tree oil for flu

Tea tree oil is a multipurpose oil but among all of its benefits, antimicrobial action has been the most exploited one. If you are suffering from sore throat, cold or flu try having tea tree oil infused steam or bath to get instant relief.

The leaves of the tea tree can be directly used for infusion if you can manage to find a tree nearby.

Tea tree has several bioactive compounds like terpinen-4-ol which make it effective in suppressing the growth and spread of influenza virus.

Tea tree oil for herpes or cold sores

Cold sores appear as small blisters around the lip area. They usually are quite painful and are also associated with fever. Due to its strong antiviral properties, topical application of tea tree oil could be beneficial as a form of naturopathic treatment.  A mix of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil has shown verifiable benefits when it comes to herpes virus infection. Make sure you don't ingest tea tree oil while applying around the mouth as it could be toxic when taken internally.

Tea tree oil for bed bugs or mites

If you are looking for a natural solution to bed bugs and mites, tea tree oil can be your saviour. Due to its insecticidal properties, it has emerged as a natural alternative to chemical insecticides and insect repellents. You can add a few drops of this magical oil to the spray mix.

This will also reduce your exposure to noxious chemicals. An important detail especially if you have kids in your house running helter-skelter.

Anti fungal effects of tea tree oil

Yeast or fungal infections are very common among the general population. Fungal infection can manifest in the form of dandruff, oral candidiasis (fungal infection of the mouth), onychomycosis (fungal infection of the fingernails), tinea pedis (fungal infection of soles of feet) and vaginal candidiasis. In all these infective conditions tea tree oil could be beneficial.

This essential oil has been found to be effective against fluconazole (an antifungal drug) resistant Candida albicans infection.

Research has established that a combination of tea tree oil and conventional antifungal medicine may help to treat stubborn fungal infections.

Topical therapy of tea tree oil in combination with clotrimazole (an antifungal drug) is very effective in decreasing the severity of fingernail fungal infection.

Tea tree oil as disinfectant

You will be surprised to know how efficacious essential oils are in terms of removing microbes from your tiles and floors. According to a study published in the Journal of Cranio-maxillo Facial Surgery, tea tree oil is very effective against resistant strains of gram-negative microorganisms, the most common cause of hospital-borne infections. Additionally, opting for a natural source is far more affordable and carries fewer side effects.

Tea tree oil in aromatherapy

Essential oils are volatile in nature, a quality extensively courted in aromatherapy. You may be curious to know what exactly does aromatherapy entail? It refers to holistic use of various essential oils to improve the overall health of body, mind and spirit. Tea tree oil is an important part of this tradition. Who wouldn’t want their house to smell good and refreshing? You could easily add this oil to a diffuser that helps to spread it all over your place. This oil can also be used as a massage oil as part of aromatherapy. Few drops of tea tree oil can be added to the regular massage oil to impart additional benefits.

Other uses of tea tree oil

  • Tea tree oil can be used to treat halitosis (bad breath). Add a few drops of the oil to water and use it as a mouthwash. This should allay foul odour leaving you with a fresh smell.

  • It can also be used to treat bed sores. Bed sores are a type of infection that develops usually in a patient who has been bedridden for a long time without any physical movement. Few drops of this oil are applied to the affected area.

Tea tree oil can be used in different ways and in different amounts, depending on the type and severity of the condition. Here are some easy ways to use tea tree oil for some common problems:

  • Acne: Take 2-3 drops of oil in a cotton pad and apply it to the affected area for 15 seconds, apply 2-3 times a day.
  • Cold sores: Take 2-3 drops of this oil on a cotton pad and apply it for 15 seconds, repeat this 3-4 times per day.
  • Dandruff: Add 80 drops of tea tree oil to 200 ml of regular shampoo.
  • Vaginal infections: Add 5 ml of tea tree oil to 100ml of water and wash the area with this externally.

Tea tree oil should never be swallowed or ingested. It is not meant for internal use. A strident warning is always mentioned in any product containing tea tree oil. Try to follow the instructions. In case it is taken orally, you will observe symptoms like confusion, lethargy and ataxia (loss of muscle coordination).

It is completely safe for topical application but some people may develop sensitivity towards this which can manifest in the form of skin irritation, itching, redness. Some may also develop an allergic rash.

Medicines / Products that contain Tea tree oil


  1. Sharifi-Rad J, Salehi B, Varoni EM, Sharopov F, Yousaf Z, Ayatollahi SA, Kobarfard F, Sharifi-Rad M, Afdjei MH, Sharifi-Rad M, Iriti M. Plants of the Melaleuca Genus as Antimicrobial Agents: From Farm to Pharmacy.. 2017 Oct;31(10):1475-1494. PMID: 28782167
  2. Bassett IB, Pannowitz DL, Barnetson RS. A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne.. Oct 15;153(8):455-8.PMID: 2145499
  3. Satchell AC, Saurajen A, Bell C, Barnetson RS. Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo.. 2002 Dec;47(6):852-5. PMID: 12451368
  4. Heukelbach J, Canyon DV, Oliveira FA, Muller R, Speare R. In vitro efficacy of over-the-counter botanical pediculicides against the head louse Pediculus humanus var capitis based on a stringent standard for mortality assessment.. 2008 Sep;22(3):264-72. PMID: 18816275
  5. C. F. Carson, K. A. Hammer and T. V. Riley. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties. 2006 Jan; 19(1): 50–62.PMID: 16418522
  6. Garozzo A, Timpanaro R, Bisignano B, Furneri PM, Bisignano G, Castro A. In vitro antiviral activity of Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil.. 2009 Dec;49(6):806-8. PMID: 19843207
  7. Garozzo A, Timpanaro R, Stivala A, Bisignano G, Castro A. Activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil on Influenza virus A/PR/8: study on the mechanism of action.. 2011 Jan;89(1):83-8. PMID: 21095205
  8. Schnitzler P, Schön K, Reichling J. Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture.. 2001 Apr;56(4):343-7. PMID: 11338678
  9. Anna Mertas, Aleksandra Garbusińska, Ewelina Szliszka, Andrzej Jureczko, Magdalena Kowalska, and Wojciech Król. The Influence of Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on Fluconazole Activity against Fluconazole-Resistant Candida albicans Strains. 2015; 2015: 590470. PMID: 25722982
  10. Buck DS, Nidorf DM, Addino JG.Comparison of two topical preparations for the treatment of onychomycosis: Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and clotrimazole.. 1994 Jun;38(6):601-5. PMID: 8195735
  11. Walton SF, McKinnon M, Pizzutto S, Dougall A, Williams E, Currie BJ. Acaricidal activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: in vitro sensitivity of sarcoptes scabiei var hominis to terpinen-4-ol.. 2004 May;140(5):563-6. PMID: 15148100
  12. Warnke PH, Lott AJ, Sherry E, Wiltfang J, Podschun R. The ongoing battle against multi-resistant strains: in-vitro inhibition of hospital-acquired MRSA, VRE, Pseudomonas, ESBL E. coli and Klebsiella species in the presence of plant-derived antiseptic oils.. 2013 Jun;41(4):321-6. PMID: 23199627
  13. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Tea Tree Oil
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