Also known as melaleuca oil, tea tree essential oil is a favorite for kicking your biggest skincare concerns to the curb. The oil is extracted via steam distillation from leaves and twigs of the tea tree (aka melaleuca shrub/tree) grown in its native region of Australia. The leaves of the tea tree have been used for centuries by the Aboriginal people of Australia to heal skin infections, cuts, and wounds. The oil’s antiseptic power is 12 times that of phenol, making it a powerful immune-boosting agent! In addition to its cleansing and purifying properties, tea tree may also help with digestion, burns, hysteria, infectious diseases, mites, and ticks (1).
The medicinal, fresh, earthy, and woody scent of tea tree oil blends well with eucalyptus, cypress, lavender, rosemary, thyme, and all citrus oils. Aromatic use can promote purification, making it fabulous for spring cleaning—or any season cleaning.
Ingredients and Uses:
The primary active ingredients found in tea tree include terpene hydrocarbons, monoterpenes, and sesquiterpenes, which give the oil its potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Other properties include analgesic, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antiseptic, expectorant, and tissue regenerative. These properties make tea tree so good at killing germs, fighting infections, and soothing skin conditions.
While tea tree is excellent for aromatic use, it’s most loved for its topical benefits. When using tea tree topically, it’s important to always dilute the oil with a carrier oil like coconut before applying it to areas of concern. You should never use tea tree internally.
Common Primary Uses:
- Athlete’s Foot
- Bacterial Infections
- Canker Sores
- Ear Infection
- Fungal Infections
- Infected Wounds
- Jock itch
- Nail Infection
I know, that’s a lot of uses! While we won’t get into all of them today, we will talk about the top benefits, and uses of tea tree essential oil.
7 Benefits of Tea Tree Essential Oil
Improves Dental Health
Because of tea tree’s natural antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties—it is a fabulous oil to add to your holistic dental care arsenal. A drop of tea tree on your toothbrush or floss can help reduce plaque and decrease gingivitis (5).
Tea tree can also help improve bad breath! Often, bad breath comes from the bacteria in your mouth, back of your tongue, throat, and tonsils. The oil’s potent antimicrobial properties can help kill these bacteria and get your breath back to normal.
For dental care, try to find a mouthwash that has tea tree in it or oil pull with a drop!
Acne and Other Skin Issues
Tea tree’s potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it a dependable natural remedy for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
In 2017, a study conducted in Australia analyzed tea tree oil’s efficacy on mild to moderate facial acne. Participants applied tea tree oil gel to their faces twice a day for 12 weeks. At the end of the trial, participants reported a significant reduction in acne lesions.
Soothe Skin Inflammation and Irritations
A pilot study found that tea tree oil may be useful in helping to heal patient wounds. While more research needs to be done, it’s believed that tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties are what helped heal and reduce wound size.
Other case studies and clinical trials find tea tree oil a promising natural remedy for treating antibiotic-resistant bacteria and chronic wounds.
All in all, tea tree may be useful in reducing inflammation, wound infections, and wound size. When using the oil for skin inflammation and irritations, remember to always dilute 1-2 drops with a carrier oil like coconut oil before applying it to the affected area.
Combat Bacterial, Fungal, and Viral Infections
Clinical Microbiology Reviews published a review on tea tree’s ability to fight infections. The data showed that the tea tree’s potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects make it possible for the oil to help with many infections, including athlete’s foot and even MRSA.
The tea tree’s antifungal components are commonly used to help fight or prevent fungal infections like jock itch, candida, toenail fungus, and athlete’s foot.
One Australian study tested tea tree’s efficacy on athlete’s foot. Patients in the treatment groups received 25 percent tea tree oil solution or 50 percent tea tree oil solution. The placebo group received no tea tree oil. The study found that 60 percent of the 50 percent group reported a 68 percent improvement while 72 percent saw improvement in the 25 percent group.
In addition to being a powerful antifungal, studies have shown that tea tree’s antimicrobial properties can also inhibit bacterial growth like Escherichia coli, Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus pneumoniae—all common bacterias that cause urinary tract infections, pneumonia, strep throat, respiratory illnesses, sinus infections, and bloodstream infections.
Even more, there are tons of lab studies that show that Australian tea tree oil can help fight herpes simplex virus (aka what causes cold sores) and influenza. Tea tree’s antiviral activity is what we can kindly owe this awesome benefit to! (2,3,4)
Lastly, let’s talk warts. A case study found that when tea tree oil was applied once a day, the wart completely disappeared after 12 days! Thank you to tea tree’s antiviral activity once again!
Did you know that the question “can tea tree oil get rid of scabies” is one of the most popular Google searches for tea tree?! Googlers are happy to discover that, in fact, yes, tea tree can treat scabies. Flinders University in Australia conducted a study that found 5 percent tea tree oil was highly effective in killing scabies mites. Opting for tea tree oil instead of prescription antibiotics can be a great natural alternative. Its tea tree’s powerful antimicrobial properties that give us this incredible benefit.
Help with Dry Scalp
Tea tree’s ability to improve dry scalp should come as no surprise—unless, of course, you haven’t seen this popular ingredient listed on countless shampoos and other hair care products.
Research shows that tea tree can improve symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, a common skin condition that causes dandruff and scaly patches on the scalp.
The Journal of American Academy of Dermatology published a study investigating the efficacy of 5 percent tea tree oil shampoo vs. a placebo in patients with mild to moderate dandruff. After four weeks, the tea tree group participants showed a 41 percent improvement, while only 11 percent in the placebo group showed improvement. The study also found improvement in itchiness and greasiness after using tea tree oil shampoo.
If you want to use tea tree for dandruff, try adding 1 drop in a nickel-quarter sized amount of shampoo and lather in. Do not put drops directly in your shampoo bottle!
Helps with Head Lice
Head lice are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood. I know, squirmy. Tea tree oil has insecticidal effects that can be used to kill these nasty guys.
One study looked at tea tree’s efficacy against lice and its eggs. Researchers found that after 30 minutes of exposure to tea tree oil alone, there was a 100 percent mortality rate. When tea tree oil was combined with nerolidol (1:2 ratio), the combination killed all head lice within 30 minutes and all lice eggs after 5 days of treatment.
Use tea tree oil aromatically or topically to fight all of your germy needs! As we’ve learned, tea tree essential oil is a great ally for all your body care needs: oral health, skin health, scalp health, and odor health. Look for all-natural products like deodorants, mouthwash, shampoo, and face washes that contain tea tree oil—or of course, get yourself a pure bottle of it (;
At our house, we also love to use tea tree in our diffuser to kill airborne germs or add it to a natural DIY spray and wipe those surface germs away.
Now that you know all of the wonderful benefits and uses of tea tree oil, what are you waiting for?!
1.Modern Essentials Handbook. AromaTools, 2019.
5.Artemis, Nadine. Holistic Dental Care: the Complete Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums. North Atlantic Books, 2013.