5 Benefits of Tea Tree Oil — How to Use Tea Tree Oil

You may have seen the term “tea tree oil” on certain grooming and anti-fungal products, but you probably have zero clue as to what it is and why it’s recommended. And that’s okay — you’re not alone.

Spoiler: you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with this potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent.

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Backed by science, tea tree oil has been touted for its medicinal and anti-fungal benefits, improving skin conditions and expediting the healing process. (Plus, it smells pretty good, too.)

To be fair, it is strong, so you’ll need to apply it correctly and pick the right product.

“To avoid skin irritation, refrain from applying 100 percent tea tree oil directly to your skin and be sure to dilute it with your usual moisturizer, Aloe Vera gel, or a neutral carrier oil such as rosehip or argan oil,” Dr. Sonia Batra, MD, a dermatologist and co-host of the television show The Doctors, recommends.

While it’s very soothing, some people might have a sensitivity to tea tree oil.

If so, common side effects include allergies and skin irritation, such as redness, itching, and sometimes inflammation, so be sure to do a patch test on a small part of your body, such as under your jawline or your inner arm, before applying elsewhere, Batra advises.

Here’s why you should pick up tea tree oil on your next trip to the drugstore.

1. Tea tree oil clears the skin.


“Tea tree oil’s natural antibacterial properties make it a great acne spot treatment,” Batra says. “You can mix a drop of tea tree oil with 12 drops of a carrier oil such as rosehip or argan oil, and use a cotton ball to dab the mixture onto pimples.”

A little goes a long way — about five percent tea tree oil can do the trick. Studies have shown that tea tree oil reduces both inflamed and non-inflamed lesions associated with acne, Batra says.

“Allow the solution to stay on your skin for a few hours or overnight then rinse your face with warm water,” she recommends. “This treatment can be repeated daily and should help stop breakouts.”

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If you want to make a mask instead, mix a few drops of tea tree oil with clay powder, yogurt, and honey. Leave the mask on for about 20 minutes and rinse with warm water. “Other uses of tea tree oil for acne include adding a few drops to your moisturizers and creams, your bath, or your face scrubs,” Batra advises.

2. Tea tree oil gets rid of Athlete’s Foot and toe fungus.


Between sweaty sneakers and walking around the locker room, feet can get a little nasty.

“Tea tree oil has antifungal properties and can help cure athlete’s foot as well as nail infection,” she says.

Here’s how to apply. “When treating athlete’s foot, create a mixture of about 10 percent tea tree oil and apply to the skin of your feet daily,” Batra says. “If you do not see results, make the mixture slightly more potent, and you can ramp up to 50 percent tea tree oil if needed.”

You’ll also want to cut down and file as much of the infected nail as possible, and clean the nail with soap and water, before drying completely and applying a cotton ball that’s soaked in a potent or even 100% tea tree solution. (Low-potency solutions aren’t always able to effectively treat nail fungus.)

“If irritation occurs, slightly dilute the mixture. Use a toothbrush to gently scrub the nail to ensure the oil reaches deep within the nail and allow the solution dry,” she says. Repeat the application of the tea tree solution at least twice a day and continue to file down the nail as it grows out.

tea tree oil

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3. Tea tree oil combats lice.


Itchy scalp? You might have a bad case of lice. Tea tree oil can be very effective as a natural treatment for lice.

“Using a solution of 1-2 percent tea tree oil, apply a layer to the lice-infested scalp and let it sit overnight,” Batra says. “The next morning, the hair should be combed and dead lice should be removed.”

Follow with a thorough wash of shampoo and conditioner, including tea tree oil as an ingredient, and repeat the drops, shampoo, and conditioner routine two or three times a week until the lice are gone.

4. Tea tree oil can treat dandruff.


Itchy, dry scalp and dandruff can be pretty embarrassing — especially if you’re noticeably shedding. And, it’s also just really uncomfortable.

“Tea tree oil is helpful for treating dry scalp and dandruff [as it] helps moisturize and soothe the scalp by clearing blocked pores and preventing dryness,” Batra says.

It also fights the bacteria associated with dandruff. “Dandruff is caused by an overgrowth of yeast, so tea tree oil’s antifungal properties are great for treating it,” she explains.

For both dry scalp and dandruff, massage a few drops of the diluted solution into your scalp and leave for 15 minutes before rinsing. You can also add a few drops of the oil to your shampoo and conditioner — using about 10 drops for every eight ounces of product.

Allow the shampoo and conditioner to sit in your hair for a few minutes before rinsing. “Products that already have tea tree oil in them can be just as effective at treating these scalp conditions,” she adds.

5. Tea tree oil heals cuts and scabs faster.


Cut yourself shaving or trip during a run? You might be left with a cut or scab that can become infected if left untreated.

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“Cuts and scrapes can become colonized or infected with bacteria, which significantly slows the healing of the wound,” Batra warns.

“Tea tree oil has been investigated as a natural antiseptic that might help decrease bacterial counts in healing wounds,” she explains, so it’s worth applying a dose.

What’s more, “some data suggests tea tree oil can also improve circulation to injured skin and thereby speed up healing,” she says.

Dilute a solution of one drop of tea tree oil mixed in about 12 drops of carrier oil, such as rosehip or argan oil, and apply daily, directly to the cut or scrape. If there’s any irritation or redness, stop ASAP.

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