How To Treat Eczema With Tea Tree Oil (Clear It Up Fast!)

 

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, can be embarrassing and uncomfortable.  Understandably, you’ll want to clear a flare up as fast as possible. 

But before you spend time and money on a doctor visit and prescription, know that a study has found that tea tree oil was more effective in treating eczema than topical treatments of zinc oxide or ichthammol.

Tea tree oil has natural healing components that can help ease the symptoms and severity of eczema flares, and when used correctly, diluted tea tree oil can be a safe and effective alternative to traditional, and even prescription creams and ointments

Discover how tea tree oil works, how to use it, and which side effects you should be aware of.

 

What is Tea Tree Oil?

Tea tree oil is an essential oil often derived from the Australian native plant Melaleuca alternifolia.

 

Tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia)

 

Although tea tree oil has been used in Australia for over 100 years, it has only recently gained popularity in other parts of the world, primarily, for its skin-healing properties.

 

Many people with eczema are turning to tea tree oil to help relieve their symptoms.

 

When used correctly, diluted tea tree oil can be a safe and effective alternative to traditional creams and ointments.

Tea tree oil is thought to be the best essential oil for eczema. Its healing qualities have been studied throughout the years.

A study published in the journal Archives of Dermatological Research examined a variety of treatments for skin inflammation and itch. 

The aim of the study was to compare traditional topical treatments, including ichtammol, zinc oxide, camphor, levomenthol and tea tree oil.

The results, calculated using a clinical scoring system, found that:

 

Tea tree oil is a more effective anti-eczematic agent than zinc oxide, clobetasone butyrate, and ichthammol.

 

Tea Tree Oil Heals Eczema

 

 

Tea tree oil is thought to be the best essential oil for eczema. Its healing qualities have been studied throughout the years.

A study published in the journal Archives of Dermatological Research examined a variety of treatments for skin inflammation and itch.  The aim of the study was to compare traditional topical treatments, including ichtammol, zinc oxide, camphor, levomenthol and tea tree oil.

The results, calculated using a clinical scoring system, found that:

 

Tea tree oil is a more effective anti-eczematic agent than zinc oxide, clobetasone butyrate, and ichthammol.

 

According to the International Journal of Dermatology, tea tree oil has antiviral and antibacterial properties, as well as wound-healing abilities.

 

Reducing Inflammation

Tea tree oil contains the compound terpinen-4-ol, which has anti-inflammatory properties.  This helps alleviate the redness, irritation, and swelling associated with eczema.

 

Wound Healing

According to an article in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, tea tree oil reduced healing times for people with wounds infected with Staphylococcus aureus.

 

Reducing Allergic Reactions

One study found that applications of high-dose tea tree oil helped to reduce skin hypersensitivity reactions to nickel in people with a nickel allergy (eczema is sometimes triggered or aggravated by skin allergens and irritants, such as nickel).

 

Fighting Off Viruses

Tea tree oil has antiviral properties that have proven to be effective against common pathogens. A 2001 study found that a combination of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil worked effectively against the herpes simplex virus.

An antiviral treatment, such as tea tree, can reduce the chances of an infection developing if the eczema causes broken skin or it is weeping.

 

Reducing Dandruff

Tea tree oil has anti-fungal properties, which can help to reduce the activity of specific yeasts, such as those known to cause dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis (seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic form of eczema).

Tea tree oil is also used to treat athlete’s foot and nail fungus.

 

Itch Relief

Itchy skin is a hallmark of eczema. One review published by the American Society for Microbiology found that tea tree oil was effective in reducing itching when used for eczema on the scalp.

 

 

Treating Eczema With Tea Tree Oil

 

 

If you want to use tea tree oil to treat your eczema, a high-quality oil is crucial; high-quality oils are less likely to be contaminated by other ingredients.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind during your search:

  • If you can, opt for an organic oil.
  • Make sure any oil you buy is 100 percent pure.
  • Always research the brand to make sure it’s reputable.

You can typically find tea tree oil at your local heath store or online. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate essential oils, so it’s important to purchase from a supplier you trust.

Although most tea tree oils are derived from the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia tree, others may be produced from a different type of Melaleuca tree.

 

The Latin name of the plant and the country of origin should be provided on the bottle.

 

It doesn’t matter which Melaleuca tree the oil is from, but the oil must be 100% tea tree oil.

Some bottles of tea tree oil may list its terpinen concentrations. Terpinen is the main antiseptic agent in tea tree oil.

 

To get the most benefits, choose a product with a 10 – 40%  terpinen concentration.

 

If you can, do some research online and read product reviews to determine which oil to buy.

Feel free to ask the seller questions about the quality to get a feel for the company’s practices and standards. You should only buy from a supplier whose integrity you trust.

A couple of brands I recommend are Majestic Pure Cosmeceuticals (terpinen 39.6%) and Alive Market Organic Tea Tree Oil (40.4% terpinen).

 

 

 

 

Storing Tea Tree Oil

Once you’ve purchased the oil, store it in cool, dark place to keep the oil intact.

Exposure to light and air can alter the quality of the tea tree oil and increase its potency, and if the tea tree oil oxidizes, it can cause a stronger allergic reaction.

 

Carrier Oils

You should never apply undiluted tea tree oil to the skin. Not only is tea tree oil drying when used alone, but undiluted tea tree oil is potent and may make your eczema worse.

Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils before they’re applied to the skin.

Using carrier oils reduces your risk of irritation and inflammation, and imparts further therapeutic benefits to your treatment, so choose a high quality carrier oil for the maximum healing effect.

 

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba seed

 

The most common carrier oil is jojoba oil, because it’s healing and moisturizing for all skin types. 

Even though it looks and feels just like an oil, it is actually a liquid wax ester made from expeller-pressed jojoba seeds. 

Jojoba oil is very similar to the sebum in human skin, and the oil can dissolve sebum and carry ingredients deep into the skin. It’s very light-weight absorbs quickly into the skin. 

Importantly for eczema sufferers, it’s moisturizing and has wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Recommended: Cliganic 100% Pure & Natural Jojoba Oil

 

 

Argan Oil

Argan nuts on the argan tree

 

Research has found that applying argan oil topically to the affected area can help treat dermatitis and help speed wound healing.

Vitamin E and the natural inflammatory properties found in argan oil can be very soothing on an eczema flare.

 

Recommended: Kate Blanc Certified Organic Argan Oil

 

Tamanu Oil

Tamanu nuts on the tamanu tree

 

Tamanu — also known as Alexandrian laurel, kamani, bitaog, pannay, and sweet-scented calophylum — is a tree that’s native to Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Melanesia, and Polynesia.

Tamanu oil is extracted from the tree’s nuts via cold-pressing.

The yellow to dark green oil has natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, making it a time-tested treatment for cuts, scrapes, and other small wounds.

 

Recommended: Natural Born Oils Unrefined Organic Tamanu Oil

 

Avocado Oil

Avocados on the tree

 

Recommended: Velona Avocado Oil

The beta carotene, protein, lecithin, fatty acids, and vitamins A, D, and E found in avocado oil help moisturize and protect your skin from damaging UV rays and also increase collagen production.

A 2015 study also found that a topical skin cream consisting of avocado, tea tree, emu, and jojoba oils had positive antimicrobial effects.

Avocado oil may also help heal wounds: A 2013 study found that the linoleic acid, oleic acid, and other monosaturated fatty acids in avocado oil can speed up wound healing.

Some evidence also suggests that avocado oil can help treat skin conditions such as plaque psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune condition that causes thick, scaly, red patches on the skin: A 2001 study found that avocado oil mixed in vitamin B-12 cream could ease psoriasis symptoms for a longer period than the traditional vitamin D-3 therapy.

The researchers theorize that a vitamin B-12 cream containing avocado oil could be used as a long-term tropical treatment for psoriasis.

 

Reminder: Before using your tea tree oil, always add about 12 drops of carrier oil to every 1 to 2 drops of tea tree oil.

 

Start With a Patch Test

Once you have your oils, you should do a skin patch test:

  • Dilute the oil. For every 1 to 2 drops of tea tree oil, add 12 drops of a carrier oil.
  • Apply a dime-sized amount of the diluted oil to your forearm.
  • If you don’t experience any irritation within 24 hours, it should be safe to apply elsewhere.

This mixture can be applied topically anywhere on the body, although you should avoid using it near your eyes.

There are a few different ways to use tea tree oil on your hands and scalp. You can apply the diluted oil alone, or search for products containing it.

 

Treating Eczema on Hands

 

 

Dab a dime-sized amount of diluted tea tree oil onto the back of your hand and rub the blend into your skin. You don’t need to wash it off; just let it absorb into your skin like a lotion.

You can also incorporate lotions or soaps containing tea tree oil into your routine.

If you can, opt for an all-natural formula.

Check the label to make sure the cream doesn’t contain any fragrances, alcohol, or other ingredients that may irritate your eczema.

A couple of products I like (for all kinds of skin irritations) are Theratree Therapeutic Soothing Lotion and Tea Tree Therapy Soap.

 

 

Treating Scalp Eczema

Tea tree oil can also help relieve mild to moderate dandruff, a common symptom of eczema.

One 2002 study found that a 5 percent tea tree oil shampoo worked well to clear up dandruff and didn’t cause any adverse effects.

In addition to clearing up pesky skin flakes, tea tree oil may:

  • unclog hair follicles
  • nourish your roots
  • reduce hair loss

A couple of excellent choices are Baebody Tea Tree Oil Shampoo and Maple Holistics Tea Tree Special Formula Shampoo.

 

 

You can also make your own: add 2 to 3 drops of undiluted tea tree oil to a quarter-sized amount of your regular shampoo. The shampoo acts as a carrier for the tea tree oil, so there’s no need to dilute it further.

After shampooing, rinse and condition as you normally would. You can use tea tree oil shampoo as often as you’d like.

If you find that it’s causing unexpected irritation, try using it every other time you wash your hair. If symptoms persist, discontinue use.

 

Tea Tree Oil Safety

While it is okay to use tea tree oil on virtually any external area of the body, it is essential to do so safely.

If applying to the face, use preparations specifically designed for the face, scalp, or eyelashes. The skin on the face and scalp is sensitive, so a person should take care when treating eczema, acne, and dandruff.

If using a pure essential tea tree oil, it is crucial to mix just a few drops into a carrier oil, such as coconut or almond oil.

It is best to do a test patch by applying a small amount of tea tree oil to a small area of skin and waiting 24 hours. If there is no reaction after 24 hours, it may be safe to use.

A person should always check with their doctor before using tea tree oil preparations to ensure they will not interfere with other eczema treatments.

Tea tree oil is generally considered safe to use. If undiluted tea tree oil is applied to the skin, it can cause minor irritation and inflammation.

You should never ingest tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is toxic to humans and can cause drowsiness, confusion, diarrhea, and rashes.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, use tea tree oil with caution and only under your doctor’s supervision.

Tea tree oil can typically be used alongside other treatment options. There aren’t any known risks for interaction.

 

Babies and Children

To date, there isn’t any research on the safety or efficacy of using tea tree oil to treat infant eczema. It’s best to talk with your child’s doctor or pediatrician before use.

If you do use it, it should never be on an infant younger than 6 months. You should also dilute the oil at twice the usual rate, mixing 12 drops of carrier oil for every 1 drop of tea tree oil. Never apply the blend near the infant’s mouth or hands, where they might ingest it.

Also, boys who haven’t gone through puberty yet shouldn’t use tea tree oil. Some research has linked tea tree oil to prepubertal gynecomastia. This rare condition can result in enlarged breast tissue.

 

Final Thoughts

Remember that skin takes 30 days to regenerate, and you may continue to have flare-ups along the way, while your treating your skin.

You may also find it helpful to track your flare-ups in a journal to see if they’re caused by any clear environmental, dietary, or emotional triggers.

Keep in mind that essential oils aren’t regulated by the government in any way, so choose your tea tree oil carefully.

Check with your doctor before using tea tree oil, and remember to perform an allergy patch test on your skin before you apply the oil to any large area on your body, as allergic reactions are possible.

Did I miss anything? … Let me know what you think (especially if you have any tips for coping with an eczema flare-up!).

What to Read Next

 

Sources

  • Carson CF, et al. (2006). Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: A review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. DOI:
    10.1128/CMR.19.1.50-62.2006
  • Christoffers WA, et al. (2014). The optimal patch test concentration for ascaridole as a sensitizing component of tea tree oil. Contact Dermatitis, 71(3), 129-137. DOI:
    10.1111/cod.12199
  • Henley DV, et al. (2007). Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. DOI:
    10.1056/NEJMoa064725
  • Pazyar N, et al. (2013). A review of applications of tea tree oil in dermatology. DOI:
    10.1111/j.1365-4632.2012.05654.x
  • Satchell AC, et al. (2002). Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil. DOI:
    10.1067/mjd.2002.122734
  • Shenefelt PD. (2011). Chapter 18. Herbal treatment for dermatologic disorders. Herbal medicine: Biomolecular and clinical aspects, 2nd edition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.
    ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92761/
  • Tea tree oil. (2016).
    nccih.nih.gov/health/tea/treeoil.htm
  • Thomas J. (2016). Therapeutic potential of tea tree oil for scabies. DOI:
    doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.14-0515
  • Wallengren J. (2011). Tea tree oil attenuates experimental contact dermatitis. DOI:
    10.1007/s00403-010-1083-y

 

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