Can tea tree oil really get rid of acne? The answer seems to be “Yes" in both theory and practice. This extract for the tea tree in Australia is a natural antiseptic and antifungal agent which works well for many people. It is in the role of antiseptic that it helps in acne prevention and treatment. When you apply this natural oil on your blackheads and whiteheads, it prevents the bacterial infection from setting in and creating pimples. Applied on your pimples, it helps to kill the bacteria and promotes healing.
The trick is that not all tea tree oils are the same. First, we have to talk about the concentration. It is natural to think that using the undiluted form for acne treatment is good, because you can kill more bacteria faster. Unfortunately, Italian doctors have found that 6% of these patients suffer from skin irritation. Compared to this, only 1 in 725 patients using the 1% solution had allergic reactions.
A study published in the Oxford Journals showed that tea tree oil below 4% concentration will not kill bacteria effectively, so this is something you need to think about for your acne treatment. The authors noted that hospitals which use the 4% to 5% concentrations as general antiseptics found tea tree oil to be very effective.
How does this natural compound stack up against laboratory-created chemicals for acne treatment? Doctors in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia compared 5% tea tree oil against 5% benzoyl peroxide. They concluded that both of them work - the difference being that benzoyl peroxide works faster, but 79% of their patients suffered side effects like itching, stinging, burning, and dryness. The patients using tea tree oil reported fewer complaints.
The next important point is the composition of your tea tree oil. Most companies extract their products from Melaleuca alternifolia, but there are at least two other species of the tea tree plant - Melaleuca dissitiflora and Melaleuca linariifolia. In addition, how the oil is extracted also determines the composition. Fortunately, the international standard ISO 4730 ("Oil of Melaleuca, Terpinen-4-ol type") specifies levels of 14 components which are needed to define the oil as “tea tree oil. " So before you make your purchase, you need to check for this certification.
Now, lets say you have your 5% tea tree oil, and it meets the ISO 4730 standard. You apply it but suffer an allergic reaction. Does this mean you cannot use this at all? Not necessarily. Remember that the remaining 95% of the solution is probably some kind of solvent. Your reaction could be against the solvent rather than the tea tree oil itself. So, buck up and try a different brand with another solvent. Just because the manufacturer says the solvent they use is inactive or inert does not mean you cannot be allergic to it.
If you are not a chronic acne sufferer, is it worthwhile to keep a small bottle of tea tree oil in your home? The answer is definitely yes. You can extend the shelf-life by keeping it in your refrigerator. And it is also useful for fungal infections and minor wounds. So you will definitely get some use out of it.
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