How to Use Tea Tree Oil to Naturally Treat Eczema

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Eczema is a collective term used for a group of long-lasting skin conditions with no cure, but with several treatments that promise to improve the symptoms. It tends to flare up periodically.

One day you are happy and fine, and out of nowhere a healthy patch on your skin becomes itchy.

It then gets red and has several bumps of different sizes. When scratched, these bumps weep and ooze eventually producing a crust over the cracked skin.

Chronic itching/rubbing results in thick plaques on the affected skin. Some lucky individuals have their eczema gone as they grow old. Others have to suffer the periodic flare-ups.

With antibiotic and corticosteroid treatment, side effects seem to be too much for some people. Besides, many out there are drawn to the healing properties of natural remedies.

In the case of eczema, one of the most popular natural treatments is tea tree oil which is both safe and effective when used correctly.

This article will take you through the necessary information you need to know before treating eczema with tea tree oil.

It will also shed light on some research studies to summarize the efforts of scientists in understanding tea tree oil and its various effects in treating eczema.  

What is tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil is an essential oil derived from the plant Melaleuca alternifolia. The plant is native to Australia, and its use dates back to a period of thousand years.

We find that the aboriginal inhabitant of the country used it for centuries, and the current research proves that they were right about the benefits of the Melaleuca plant and its extracts. 

Tea tree oil has over 100 ingredients of which the primary ones include terpene hydrocarbons, sesquiterpenes, and monoterpenes. It is this composition that gives tea tree oil its medicinal properties.

Back in 1923, Dr. A.R. Penfold presented the medicinal properties of tea tree to the Australian government.

He mentioned that tea tree oil had 11 to 13 times more powerful antibacterial and antifungal effects as compared to phenol, and also, it is non-caustic.

Tea tree oil was an essential component of first aid kits for the soldiers of World War II.

Later in 1929, when Penfold and FR Morrison published their paper “Australian Tea Trees of Economic Value,” the research into tea tree oil was put on a spurt.

The production and research enthusiasm, however, ebbed after the war, and a renewed interest was sparked in the 1970s due to re-emergence of the demand for natural products.

Tea tree oil benefits for people with eczema

There are many essential oils with promising results in terms of treating ailments. Most of these have antimicrobial properties, but there are only a few that have all four properties: antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiprotozoal.

Tea tree oil is one of those rare gems. Read on to find out why tea tree oil can help alleviate the symptoms of eczema. (1)

The anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil help in reducing itching, which is the primary source of discomfort in the initial stages of eczema flare-ups.

In eczema, when the outer protective layer of skin disrupts, germs are likely to attack.

The anti-microbial properties of tea tree oil fight against these infectious agents, reduce infection, and prevent it from spreading further away. Tea tree oil also has antioxidant effects to save the skin from damage caused by free radicals.

Moreover, antiseptic properties of this amazing essential oil soothe the skin, something that is very much needed in the case of itchy rash.

Other than eczema, tea tree oil is also useful in treating other skin conditions, such as acne, athlete’s foot, dandruff, wounds, and cuts.

Research studies on tea tree oil and eczema

In the past, people had been using tea tree oil based on anecdotal evidence that the topical use of this oil is safe with no severe adverse reactions.

Presently, there is plenty of research data that supports the belief that tea tree oil has certain medicinal properties. (2)

Among various essential oils, tea tree oil is well-studied and is considered as best for eczema.

A research study was conducted to compare the efficacy of zinc oxide cream, clobetasone butyrate cream, and tea tree oil in reducing the symptoms of eczema.

The results showed that tea tree oil has better anti-eczematic properties than the two creams as it decreased the symptoms of contact dermatitis by 40 percent as compared to 17.4 and 23.5 percent in the case of zinc oxide and clobetasone butyrate cream, respectively. (3)

In an animal study, the effect of tea tree oil cream was studied on dogs with eczema. The cream was applied for 10 days.

Dogs that were treated with tea tree oil cream had significantly reduced itching as compared to the dogs that were treated with a skin care cream readily available in the market.

Tea-tree-oil-cream-group of dogs also had a speedy recovery compare to the other group. (4)

Individuals with low histamine tolerance are more likely to experience the severity of eczema.

Research was conducted on 27 participants to find out the anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil on histamine-induced flare and weal.

The volunteers were injected intradermal histamine diphosphate in both forearms. The diameter and double skin thickness for weal and flare were measured.

Tea tree oil and liquid paraffin were applied as treatment options. It was seen that applicants with liquid paraffin had no effect on the histamine-induced weal and flare.

Weal significantly decreased after the application of tea tree oil establishing that tea tree oil can dramatically reduce histamine-induced inflammation of the skin. (5)

In a case study of infected eczema treated with essential oils showed that the use of tea tree oil, lavender oil, bergamot, lemon, and niaouli essential oil resulted in significant healing within six days of use.

The itchiness reduced to zero after the application of tea tree and lavender oil. The new skin formed over the lesion was better moisturized than expected. (6)

Tea tree oil treatment for eczema

If you plan to use tea tree oil for your eczema, here’s some information you need to know.   

  • Never apply tea tree oil directly to your skin. Mix it with a carrier oil. Otherwise, it can make your eczema worse.
  • Good carrier oils include olive oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and almond oil.
  • For each drop of tea tree oil, add about 12 drops of your chosen carrier oil.
  • Always do a patch test before applying the mixture on the affected skin. Just dab a small amount of oil on the back of your hand. If you experience no irritation within 24 hours of application, your mixture is safe for use.
  • When you apply tea tree oil (diluted in a carrier oil) on eczema flares, do not wash it off. Let your skin absorb it like a lotion.

Tea tree oil mixture for eczema: You can mix the following ingredients to create your homemade eczema lotion:

  • Tea tree oil (5 drops)
  • Lavender oil (5 drops)
  • Coconut oil (1 teaspoon)

Things you need to know when buying tea tree oil

A good quality bottle of tea tree oil is crucial to get the desired effect, and most importantly, to avoid mishaps. A good quality tea tree oil is more likely to be free of other ingredients.

Try looking for an organic oil from a reputable brand. Make sure that is 100 percent pure.

Most tea tree oils are from the tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, but many are still produced from other types of Melaleuca tree.

Whichever Melaleuca tree is used to generate the oil from, the important thing is that it should be tea tree oil with no contaminants (100 percent pure).

Some brands mention the terpinen concentration of the tea tree oil. Since terpinen is the antiseptic ingredient of tea tree oil, do not buy the ones with less than 10 percent terpinen concentration. 

You can buy a bottle of tea tree oil with these qualities from here.

Risks and cautions when using tea tree oil

Although tea tree oil is generally considered safe for topical use, the most reliable of the things also need precautions.

Tea tree oil is not suitable for oral use. If ingested, it can cause confusion, drowsiness, loss of motor control, hallucinations, rashes, and diarrhea.

Expecting and lactating mothers should use tea tree oil only under the supervision of their doctor.  There is no research on the safety of tea tree oil use in infants.

Do NOT use it without consultation from your child’s pediatrician. Moreover, boys who have not yet hit the pubertal age should NOT use tea tree oil.

Some research has found a link between male prepubertal gynecomastia and tea tree oil usage. (7)

Bottom line

Humans have diverse reactions when it comes to the application and usage of different products. If you want to apply tea tree oil to treat eczema, you need to find out if it's a good choice for you.

Dilute the tea tree oil by mixing it with a carrier oil, do a patch test, and see what happens. If it suits you, well and good; if not, you should refrain from this essential oil.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is only for information purposes. It is not a substitute for medical advice.  

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235412892_A_review_of_applications_of_tea_tree_oil_in_dermatology

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/

  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-2133.2002.05034.x

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15568640

  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12452873

  6. http://www.grandroundsjournal.com/articles/gr000004/gr000004.pdf

  7. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa064725#t=article



 


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