Tea Tree oil comes from the Melaleuca alternifolia, a small tree in Queensland, Australia. There are numerous tea tree oil benefits, thanks to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Australians have been using it for almost one hundred years, and today the oil is available worldwide . Tea tree oil is particularly useful as a topical treatment for various skin conditions. Continue reading to learn why this powerful oil deserves a place in your skincare regime.
How Does Tea Tree Oil Work?
The benefits of tea tree oil come from a number of compounds, most notably terpinene-4-ol. This is the most abundant individual component in the oil, accounting for approximately 23 percent of the oil. Terpinen-4-ol has been shown to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi . Additionally, research using human cell cultures has shown that terpinen-4-ol increases the activity of your white blood cells (part of your immune system). The antiseptic activity of tea tree oil may be due to white blood cell activation .
10 Tea Tree Oil Benefits For Your Skin
Many lotions, creams, and moisturizers contain a small dilution of tea tree oil, but for best results, it is recommended you invest in a bottle of 100% pure tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is regarded as one of the safer essential oils for use on skin and in some instances can be used undiluted in very small quantities. First, perform a skin patch test. To be on the safe side, it is always better to dilute in a carrier oil, such as coconut, almond, or jojoba oil.
1. Tea Tree Oil Helps Fight Acne
Tea tree oil contains strong antibacterial and antifungal compounds that are known to reduce inflammation that can lead to swelling of the skin. Research has shown that for this reason, it can help reduce the amount and overall severity of acne . In fact, one study demonstrated that tea tree oil was just as effective at treating acne as benzoyl peroxide. Patients who used the oil saw a reduction in acne lesions, with fewer side effects compared to benzoyl peroxide .
Acne gels with a tea tree oil base are available at many retailers, however, you can also make your own acne products at home. The simplest way to do this is by mixing one part of tea tree oil with nine parts of water. You can then apply this to the affected areas twice per day with a cotton swab. Alternatively, you can dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil. Carrier oils could include coconut oil, apricot oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, or extra-virgin olive oil. Always remember to do a spot test before you try a new skincare product. Do so by applying a small amount of the product to the inside of your elbow, then wait 24 hours to see if any signs of an allergic reaction appear.
Healthline offers the following instructions for diluting with a carrier oil:
- Combine one or two drops of tea tree oil with twelve drops of carrier oil
- Wash the affected area with a gentle cleanser and pat it dry.
- Gently apply the diluted tea tree oil by dabbing it on your blemishes with a cotton round or pad.
- Allow it to dry, and follow up with your usual moisturizer.
- Repeat this process morning and night .
2. Tea Tree Oil Helps Relieve Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition characterized by red, scaly, and sometimes inflamed areas of the skin. It occurs when dead skin cells begin to build up on the surface of the skin and can cause thick silvery scales or red, dry, and itchy patches . While it has no cure, relieving its symptoms is one of the many tea tree oil benefits. This is thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. In a 2012 study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, researchers observed the effects of tea tree oil as a novel anti-psoriasis weapon. They found that tea tree oil helps to remove the dry, dead skin cells that psoriasis causes. Additionally, Its antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties help relieve itching, redness, and burning .
Use the following steps to treat psoriasis with tea tree oil:
- Combine ten drops of tea tree oil with two tablespoons of melted coconut oil.
- Apply just enough to cover the affected area.
- Repeat two to three times each day.
3. Get Rid of Nail Fungus with Tea Tree Oil
Nail fungal infections are typically not dangerous, but they can be rather unsightly. Tea tree oil is an effective natural approach to getting rid of nail fungus. In one study, people with nail fungus used either tea tree oil or an antifungal medication for six months. At the end of that trial, sixty percent of the participants in both groups saw their nail fungus go away partially or completely. This proves that tea tree oil can be just as effective as traditional treatments . To treat nail fungus, either use a few drops of tea tree oil alone or mix it with an equal amount of coconut oil. After you’ve applied the oil to the affected area, be sure to wash your hands to avoid spreading the fungus.
4. Use It As an Antiseptic for Minor Cuts and Scrapes
A 2006 review found that you can use tea tree oil to treat and disinfect minor cuts and scrapes. This is because of its antibacterial properties, which can prevent infection in open wounds .
Follow these steps for using tea tree oil to disinfect a minor wound:
- First be sure to clean the cut thoroughly, using water and hydrogen peroxide.
- Afterward, dilute two drops of tea tree and lavender oil in jojoba oil.
- Apply to the area, and cover it up with a bandage to prevent infection.
5. Relieve Razor Burn with Tea Tree Oil
A razor burn isn’t just unsightly; it can be rather uncomfortable or even painful if you don’t address it. You can treat razor burn with tea tree oil in a similar way you treat cuts and scrapes .
6. Tea Tree Oil to Treat Athlete’s Foot
Studies show that tea tree oil is an effective alternative to treating the symptoms of athlete’s foot over an antifungal medication . That being said, other research has shown that while tea tree oil may help relieve the symptoms of the condition, it doesn’t actually get rid of the fungus that causes it . You can make your own homemade athlete’s foot powder using tea tree oil, arrowroot powder, and baking soda!
Follow these steps to create your own foot powder:
- Add a quarter cup of arrowroot powder, a quarter cup of baking soda, and 20 drops of tea tree oil to a bowl. Try to spread out the droplets of the oil throughout the powder the best you can.
- Stir to combine and place in a covered container.
- To use, rinse your feet first and gently pat them dry. Apply the powder, using clean hands to spread it evenly.
- Do this at least twice each day. After use, store your shaker in a cool, dark place.
7. Tea Tree Oil as a Makeup Remover
You can find many makeup remover products on the shelves that contain tea tree oil. Alternatively, you can make your own. Simply mix a quarter cup of extra-virgin olive oil with 10 drops of tea tree oil in a 4-ounce glass jar with a lid. Shake until well blended and then store in a cool, dark place when not in use.
You can make your own tea tree oil makeup remover like this:
- To remove your makeup, saturate a cotton ball with the solution and then just sweep over your face.
- Rinse with warm water.
8. Control Dandruff with Tea Tree Oil
One study had participants use shampoo containing five percent tea tree oil for four weeks. The researchers found that those who used the tea tree oil shampoo showed a 41 percent improvement in the severity of their dandruff. The placebo group saw only an eleven percent improvement. Participants in the tea tree group also reported less itchiness, greasiness, and scaliness .
9. Tea Tree Oil Soothes Skin Irritation
Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into contact with an allergen. This can cause your skin to be red, itchy, and sometimes painful. One of the many tea tree oil benefits is relieving these symptoms. One study found that tea tree oil reduced symptoms of contact dermatitis by forty percent. This is better than standard skin medications like zinc oxide or clobetasone butyrate .
Use the following recipe to treat inflamed skin:
- Combine ten drops of tea tree oil with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon of melted coconut oil.
- Mix well, and store in a sealed container.
- Apply to the affected area up to twice a day until your symptoms disappear.
10. Relieve Bug Bites with Tea Tree Oil
Research has also shown that tea tree oil can reduce the itching, redness, and swelling that occurs after a bug bite . To treat a bug bite with tea tree oil, follow the same steps as you would for treating contact dermatitis.
Cautions When Using Tea Tree Oil
While the tea tree oil benefits are numerous, you should always use caution when you’re using essential oils. Overall, experts deem it to be safe, however, it may cause a negative reaction for some people. Before using tea tree oil for the first time, do a spot-test by placing a couple of drops on a small area of your skin. Wait one full day afterward to see if your skin reacts poorly. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to dilute tea tree oil in water or another oil to reduce the possibility of irritation.
Additionally, you should never use tea tree oil orally, as it can be toxic when you ingest it. Ingesting tea tree oil can cause:
- A lack of muscle control or coordination of voluntary movements (ataxia)
- Decreasing levels of consciousness 
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there are many benefits to using tea tree oil. It is inexpensive and widely available, too, which makes it accessible for most people. It will not necessarily cure all of your skin ailments, however. If you have any serious or persistent skin issues, talk with your doctor before using tea tree oil.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
Editor’s note (11/19/2020): An earlier version of this article published in February 2017, and has since been updated to meet current editorial standards.