Tea tree oil is one of the most popular essential oils. It comes from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree (and has nothing to do with the tea we drink), and the name of the oil is also sometimes written ti-tree.
Many essential oils are antiseptic, but tea tree is one of the few oils that can be effective against bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Australian aborigines apparently used tea tree leaves to heal cuts, wounds and infections.
Tea tree essential oil can be used as a home treatment for colds and flu, cold sores, warts and acne. Tea tree is one of the few essential oils that can be applied neat on the skin in small amounts. A small amount means one single drop of the essential oil applied carefully on a spot or a cold sore. Tea tree oil is not believed to be a skin irritant but people with sensitive skin may get allergic reactions, so be careful.
Colds & Flu
At the first sign of a cold or flu, take a warm bath with 3-6 drops of tea tree essential oil mixed into the bath water. You can dilute the essential oils to 1-2 teaspoons of base oil, such as sweet almond, especially if your skin is sensitive.
Add a few drops of tea tree oil into a vaporizer or aromatherapy burner during the cold and flu season. Tea tree oil can also be added to steam inhalations to relieve congested nose during a cold.
Patricia Davis in Aromatherapy: an A-Z (Random House, UK, 2004) recommends applying a drop of tea tree oil on a cold sore as soon as you feel the first symptoms. You can use neat oil or mix it with a little alcohol (such as pure vodka).
Veruccae and Warts
Tea tree oil can be used as a topical treatment for veruccae or warts. Using a cotton swab, apply a drop of tea tree oil on a wart and cover it with a band-aid. Repeat every day until the wart disappears, but be patient- it can take weeks.
Tea Tree Oil for Acne
Tea tree is one of the best essential oils to treat acne. Tea tree is used many anti-acne face washes, soaps and creams, although some commercial products contain hardly any essential oil – so always check the label. A drop of tea tree oil can be applied on individual spots, especially painful, large and inflamed spots.
Tea tree can be also used as a home remedy for fungal infections, including athlete’s foot (tinea pedis). There are many products that contain tea tree oils on the market or you can try a drop of pure oil on the affected area, just like in the home treatment for warts.
Essential oils should not be taken internally. I would not use tea tree during pregnancy, and if using tea tree oil on children, it should be diluted well; it might be safer (and more convenient) to use a good quality cream that contains tea tree oil.