Acne is a common problem that is estimated to affect around 80% of people at some point in their lifetime. Sufferers of acne are often desperate to banish the condition and will turn to antibiotics as a solution. While prescription medications can be excellent, they do come with potential side-effects and risks of antibiotic resistance. As a result, alternative methods of treating acne have surged in popularity.
What is tea-tree oil?
Tea-tree oil is derived from Melaleuca alternifolia and has considerable antiseptic properties. It can be used to treat a range of conditions from head lice to the common cold, but its anti-bacterial qualities have the ability to fight the Propionibacteria acnes bacteria that causes acne. Tea-tree oil has powerful restorative properties, which can help to reduce the appearance of acne and improve the condition of the skin. It is also one of only two essential oils (along with pure lavender) that may be sparingly applied neat to the skin, which can help to target specific blemishes.
Safety of tea-tree oil
One of the biggest benefits of tea-tree oil is that it is not as harsh on the skin as other chemicals, such as salicylic acid, which are used in acne treatments. Some may also feel comforted in the knowledge that they are using a natural remedy which does not come with the risk of associated side-effects. Compared to some costly acne treatment products, tea-tree oil is also an inexpensive solution.
Tea-tree oil scientific evidence
However, as with many alternative therapies, scientific evidence is sparse. Although trials have been undertaken, there is not substantial evidence to support claims that tea-tree oil is a reliable treatment against acne. While tea-tree is widely acknowledged to be a powerful anti-septic, scientists cannot quantify the extent of its effectiveness as an acne treatment in isolation.
Although tea-tree oil is not known to cause any serious side-effects, it may cause contact dermatitis for some with sensitive skin. Furthermore, it may not be as fast-acting as prescription medicines, which often provide visible results relatively quickly.
It is, therefore, difficult to conclude the effectiveness of tea-tree oil as a solution to fight acne. Until further research is undertaken, the benefits of its use are largely anecdotal. However, for those who are willing to try an alternative option, tea-tree oil may be worth considering as a low-cost, low-risk natural remedy.
Where to buy tea-tree oil
Pure tea-tree oil may be used as a topical agent for the skin, such as Masons Natural Tea Tree Oil
Skin care ranges containing tea-tree oil may benefit acne-prone skin, such as Tea Tree Water from Lush.
The Body Shop sells a range of tea-tree skin care products, including this Skin Clearing Facial Wash