Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil that comes from steaming the leaves of the Australian tea tree.
When used topically, tea tree oil is believed to be antibacterial. Tea tree oil is commonly used to treat acne, athlete’s foot, lice, nail fungus and insect bites.
Tea tree oil is available as an oil and in many over-the-counter skin products, including soaps and lotions. However, tea tree oil should not be taken orally. If swallowed, it can cause serious symptoms.
Research on tea tree oil use for specific conditions shows:
Acne – Research suggests that a treatment gel containing tea tree oil might be effective at relieving acne.
Dandruff – A tea tree oil shampoo used for four weeks has been shown to be effective at treating dandruff.
Athlete’s foot – A tea tree oil cream, applied twice daily for one month, has been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms of athlete’s foot.