Treating acne with Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil and acne have quite a history together. Tea tree oil is one of many all natural remedies available for people who suffer from acne. And like every acne remedy (including Accutane and other prescription drugs), tea tree oil and acne is not a “cure” for acne. However, I wanted to study up and see just how effective tea tree oil is for eliminating acne.

Tea tree oil is extracted and concentrated by steaming the leaves of a melaleuca tree and then collecting the oil the leaves give off into a concentrate. The concentration process does not involve any chemicals, so tea tree oil lives up the statement of “all natural”, however, I wanted to know how well tea tree oil and acne really work.

Tea tree oil and acne – history
Out of over 100 species, the Melaleuca alternifolia is the one prized for its oil. This tea tree plant is native to Australia. It has been used for centuries by the Aborigines of Australia to fight infections, gum disease, viral and fungi infections, as well as bacteria.

However, I was still skeptical of it, simply because native people using plant to treat disease has no scientific or tested evidence of how effective it really is.

tea tree oil and acne – studies
Then, upon further reading, I found several studies conducted in the past 20 years that show tea tree oil is more effective than traditional antibiotics in treating some topical bacterial and fungal infections. One study in particular was conducted on Staph bacterial infections of the skin. Tea tree oil was more effective at killing the bacteria than two other antibiotics, methicillin and vancomycin*.

However, the most intriguing study was done to test tea tree oil for acne treatment.

Benzoyl Peroxide vs. Tea Tree Oil and Acne –
This study in particular was conducted to compare the acne bacteria fighting properties of tea tree oil to benzoyl peroxide cream. The study found that on the average, tea tree oil was just as effective in treating acne as a 5% benzoyl peroxide.* It took a bit longer to get rid of it, however, tea tree oil users experienced none of the side effects (such as skin redness, overdrying, and irritation) that benzoyl peroxide users did.

Final Conclusion – Tea tree oil is all natural, and effective in fighting acne. However, like all acne treatments, what works for some may not work for others, and the best treatment is usually a combination of daily cleansing, topical remedies, and skin protection.

My top recommendation for Tea tree oil is Herbal Advisor. They offer some of the best prices on 100% tea tree oil tinctures, as well as largest selection of tea tree oil brands, and side by side comparisons. Really a top notch site for buying any aromatherapy or essential oil product.

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Chan, C.H., et al. “Activity of tea tree oil on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus,” Journal of Hospital Infection 39(3):244-245, 1998.

Concha, J.M., et al. “Antifungal activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against various pathogenic organisms,” Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association 88(10):489-492, 1998.

Gustafson, J.E., et al. “Effects of tea tree oil on Escherichia coli,” Letters In Applied Microbiology 26(3):194-198, 1998.

Inouye, S, et al. “Antisporulating and respiration-inhibitory effects of essential oils on filamentous fungi,” Mycoses 41(9-10):403-410, 1998

I.B. Bassett et al. A comparative Study of Tea Tree Oil versus Bezoyl Peroxide in the Treatment of Acne. Med J Aust 153:455-8, 1990.