Tea tree oil has been dubbed “the wonder from Down Under”. That’s because this oil, derived from the leaves of the Australian paperbark tree, has been known to offer relief from a number of skin conditions.
Australia’s native Aborigines have used the essential oil for generations and in the 1920’s, after it was discovered by Australian servicemen, it began to grow in popularity even more. Today, tee tree oil is sold in health food stores and on the internet, for as little as $5-$10. It is also a common ingredient in everything from lotions to toothpastes.
Tea tree oil uses now include a number of skin condition sincluding athlete’s foot, fungal infections of the nail and acne. Research is currently being done to link it with a host of other conditions including scabies, ringworm, toothache and even as a treatment for insect bites, stings, boils and minor burns.
How Does Tea Tree Oil Work?
What makes this natural substance so effective is its unique blend of antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties, which help to stimulate the immune system and speed healing. At the same time, it destroys bacteria and fungus that cause infection, helping to ease symptoms and reverse damage to the skin.
Because it is a completely natural substance, it is almost entirely free of harmful side effects, making it safe for most individuals. It is not recommend for use in young boys who have not reached puberty, as it can seriously affect hormone balance, potentially causing gynecomastia, or of the formation of breast tissue in young boys.
It should also never be taken internally. Used as a topical treatment for skin conditions, other than for young boys, the only potential side effects are some drying and irritation, which are generally very mild.
What Specific Skin Conditions Does It Treat?
Although it is an oil, using tea tree oil for acne can be very effective. A 5% tea tree oil gel has proven to be just as effective, if not more so, than the more traditional 5% benzoyl peroxide usually used for acne treatment. It can take a bit longer to work than benzoyl peroxide, but it is generally milder on the skin and has a much lesser chance of causing serious side effects.
In higher concentrations, tea tree oil is a particularly effective treatment for both athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) and fungal infections of the nails. A topical application of a 10% tea tree oil gel can be just as effective at treating symptoms of athlete’s foot as the more common antifungal medications such as Lotrimin.
When the concentration is increased to 25%-50%, however, tea tree oil has proven to not only relieve symptoms but also cure the infection over a course of about four weeks. Fungal infections of the nails can be even more tenacious and a 100% tea tree oil gel, used twice daily for six months, may be necessary to clear up the infection.
Lower concentrations of tea tree oil have not been nearly as effective for this type of infection, so it is important that you make sure to use the proper percentage in order to get the full health benefits.
How Does It Compare To Traditional Treatments?
While it is slower to take effect, tea tree oil can be just as effective if not more effective than traditional antifungal and acne medications. At the same time, it contains no synthetic chemicals that can be harmful to your health, making it safe and nearly side effect free.
If you are troubled by persistent acne or fungal infections, consider the natural alternative and look in health food stores and websites for tea tree essential oil. Your body will thank you for making the organic choice!