Sunday, February 5, 2012

What is tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil is an extract from the leaves of the melaluca alterbifolia plant. In the last decade, many health benefits have been ascribed to tea tree oil. In many tropical countries, tea tree oil has been sued for centuries to treat and prevent a number of skin disorders including infections. Some studies show that tea tree oil may have anti-bacterial properties. Some studies in humans show that tea tree oil may help eradicate fungal infections of the nail and athlete’s foot, vaginal infections and even acne. Unfortunately, there are just as many studies, which show that tea tree oil has no health benefits.

There is no formulation of tea tree oil that can be taken by mouth. Tea tree oil is only to be used for application on the skin. It should be avoided on open area of the skin, eyes, mouth, ears, and nose. The oil is also known to cause skin irritation and allergic contact dermatitis.

Can tea tree oil help my acne?

Although tea tree oil is widely sold to treat many skin ailments including acme, there is only weak evidence that it has any anti acne activity. However, in some people tea tree oil may decrease the skin redness associated with acne.

Can tea tree oil help cure my athlete’s foot?

Unfortunately, there is no evidence that tea tree oil can be used to treat athlete’s foot. Several small studies have shown that it may reducing itching but does not cure the fungus infection. At the moment tea tree oil is not a recommended treatment for athlete’s foot.

Are there any medical disorders where tea tree oil is recommended?

No, except for its use as a mild moisturizer there is no medical disorder that can treated with tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has been recommended for bad breath dandruff, dental plaque, eye infections, genital herpes, lice, vaginitis, and thrush. In all these cases, there is minimal evidence that tea tree oil actually works. All consumers should be warned that tea tree oil is toxic when applied in the mouth, eyes, nose, and ears. Best advice if you have any of the above problems, go and see your physician. When ingested tea tree oil is known to cause severe stomach upset, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Even though tea tree oil is sold as mouth wash, it should never be swallowed.

Is tea tree oil safe?

There are many reports that tea tree oil when applied on the skin can cause allergic reactions. Some people may develop a mild dermatitis but others can develop a severe blistering and painful rash. People with allergy to any components of tea tree oil or related plants like balsam of Peru should not use tea tree oil. Since tea tree oil has not been thoroughly investigated, pregnant women or those who are breast-feeding should refrain from using this product. Tea tree oil should not be applied on the breast or nipples as it can be absorbed by the breast-feeding infant.

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