Tea tree oil is obtained by steam distillation of the leaves of the tea tree plant, also known as Melaleuca alternifolia, and is native to Australia. Indigenous Australian people have used the oil to treat wounds and skin infections since they first used the leaves and to cover their skin as a homeopathic remedy. Tea tree oil is thought to have antiseptic and antifungal properties and has traditionally been used to treat infections. Undiluted tea tree oil is light yellow in color and has a nutmeg-like scent.
Tea tree oil is for topical use only and can be applied to the skin and used as a local antiseptic and antifungal for a variety of conditions. Tea tree oil also has many uses for cleaning and disinfecting.
Some conditions include:
- Plantar warts – Put oil directly on the wart and let dry. If you skin is sensitive you may want to dilute with a carrier oil like almond or grapeseed.
- Cold Sores – Apply tea tree directly to the cold sore several (3-4) times a day. Since tea tree oil is toxic avoid getting it in your mouth.
- Psoriasis – Rub a few drops of tea tree oil, diluted in a little olive oil, into your psoriasis patches several times a day. This should help relieve itching and soften plaques, especially for mild cases.
- Toenail fungus – Applying 100 percent pure tea tree oil to nail fungus for a minimum of three months has been proven to work as well at killing it as prescription antifungal cream. Apply a drop or two of pure tea tree oil to the discolored nail once or twice a day.
- Athlete’s foot – To relive burning, itching, inflammation, and scaling, add a few drops to a tablespoon of witch hazel and apply to the affected area with a cotton swab three times a day.
- Acne – A 5 percent solution of tea tree oil is thought to work just as well as benzoyl peroxide, according to Australian researchers studying their native resource. To treat acne, dilute a few drops of tea tree oil with 20 to 40 drops of witch hazel, and apply to skin once or twice a day with a cotton swab. Although tea tree oil is gentler than benzoyl peroxide, be careful to not overuse it because it can dry out your skin, causing your body to overproduce its own oils and make your acne worse. If you apply it to your face, stay out of the sun since tea tree oil can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays.
- Sinus infections – To loosen phlegm when congested, put a few drops of tea tree oil into a small saucepan of boiling water. Remove from heat and create a tent with a towel over your head and breath for 10-15 minutes. You can also add oil to bath or vaporizer.
- Lice – Add a small amount to shampoo to destroy head lice.
Other uses for tea tree oil include:
- Remove makeup – Mix 1/4 cup canola oil with 10-12 drops of tea tree oil in a sterilized glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until blended. Store in a cool, dark place. To use, saturate a cotton ball with the mixture and sweep over your face. Rinse your face well with warm water and consider following with a toner.
- Soften dry cuticles – Mix 2 tablespoons of oil (olive, jojoba, avocado, or other similar oils), 10 drops tea tree essential oil , and 10 drops lavender essential oil in a small, dark-colored glass bottle (which helps preserve the oil) and shake to combine. Before use, shake well and then massage a few drops into your nails and cuticles to soften your cuticles and prevent splitting.
- All-purpose cleaner – Combine 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water or combine 14 ounces of water, 1 ounce of Murphy’s oil soap and 10 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle.
- Insect repellent – Combine 15 drops in a quart of water for an effective insect repellent. Also be sure to keep tea tree oil nearby when outdoors to put directly on insect bites or blisters.
Have you ever used tea tree oil for your health or home? What is your favorite way to use tea tree oil?