The Advantages of Tea Tree Oil on Facial Skin

Steam distilling leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant produces tea tree oil. People have traditionally used this oil topically for its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, although more research is necessary to confirm these benefits, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Tea tree oil may have advantages for facial skin including treating acne, and combatting allergic skin reactions and cold sores. Users should be cautious because this oil is likely to cause skin irritation if not diluted before applying.

Treating Acne

Research indicates that tea tree oil decreases both inflamed and non-inflamed acne. A study published in the October 15, 1990 issue of “Medical Journal of Australia” found that tea tree oil gel of 5 percent strength had comparable effects to 5 percent benzoyl peroxide lotion, a standard acne treatment. Tea tree oil took longer to work, but patients using the oil experienced fewer side effects than those using benzoyl peroxide.

Decreasing Allergic Skin Inflammation

Preliminary research indicates that topical tea tree oil decreases histamine-induced inflammation (allergic skin reactions), according to the NIH. A study published in the December 2002 issue of the British Journal of Dermatology, found that participants experienced a significant reduction of induced allergic skin reaction within 10 minutes after a topical application of 100 percent tea tree oil.

Treating Cold Sores

Tea tree oil also shows advantages for people who have recurring cold sores (recurrent herpes labialis). A study published in the 2001 issue of the “Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy” found that cold sore treatment with tea tree oil was similar in effectiveness to other topical therapies.

The study noted that tea tree oil may be a cheaper alternative to other treatments and it may help patients avoid taking systemic antiviral drugs for recurrent cold sores.

About this Author

Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in “Family Circle” magazine and the “Milwaukee Sentinel” newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.