Tea tree oil was historically used as a substitute for tea, which is how it got its name. The leaves of the tea tree contain potent and medicinally valuable oil, which is applied to the skin and used to treat a host of conditions. Tea tree oil is so effective, it is used in a variety of cosmetics, hygiene products and over-the-counter medicines.
The Many Uses for Tea Tree Oil
Because tea tree oil is a natural anti-fungal, it is often used topically to relieve the symptoms of tinea pedis, or athlete’s foot. The soothing oil is found in over-the-counter creams for inflammation, burning and itching. According to Medline Plus, approximately half of those who try tea tree oil for four weeks are able to cure athlete’s foot with a solution of 25 percent or 50 percent. Stronger topical applications taken for longer periods are able to cure fungal infections of the nails, which can cause embarrassing yellowing and thickening of the nail. The toenails are more susceptible to this kind of infection, and are more common among people who wear closed footwear or have a weakened immune system. Nail changes that indicate a fungal infection include:
- Crumbling of the nail
- Lifting or loosening of the nail
- Changes in the shape or color of nails
Tea Tree Oil for Acne
Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most commonly used medicines in over-the-counter and prescription strengths, due to its ability to kill bacteria that leads to acne. And while benzoyl peroxide is highly effective and easily accessible, it is also irritating, especially for those with sensitive skin. The burning, redness and peeling can be enough for some users to abandon the products and suffer with the acne instead. As a natural antiseptic, tea tree oil is an effective alternative to bothersome benzoyl peroxide. A 5 percent solution is shown to work as well as products containing 5 percent benzoyl peroxide. And while tea tree oil takes longer to clear acne, it is much gentler on the skin.
Some tea tree users find that the oil helps ease bronchial congestion when added to bath water. Others use tea tree oil to treat cold sores, skin abrasions, scalp irritation, ringworm, and vaginal infections. There are countless uses for tea tree oil. Which of them will you attempt?