Eczema is a health condition that is characterized by itchy, dry and inflamed patches of the skin, which may blister, weep or peel off sometimes. It is an inflammation of the skin and often results in reddish spots that have a persistent sensation of itching.
Eczema is not a single condition; it describes several skin conditions that include contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, stasis eczema, hand eczema, dyshidrotic eczema, and neurodermatitis.
The disease often occurs among infants and young children, but even adults can suffer from it at any time of their life. The Eczema symptoms typically lessen as the children mature, and in some instances, the victims may outgrow the condition.
In some cases, however, eczema may show an on and off the pattern in some people throughout their life. Eczema causes discomfort to the patient and can be so severe that it disrupts sleep and normal life.
While no definite cure is yet known, there are natural remedies that help to prevent future recurrence of eczema, as well as manage the discomfort when there is an eczema flare.
One of the most famous natural treatments for the ailment is the tea tree essential oil. People in Australia and other parts of the world have been using the tea tree oil for eczema treatment for centuries.
How Does Tea Tree Oil Work for Eczema?
The tea tree oil is an essential oil derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant that is native to Australia. Numerous studies have reported the plant as having antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties, which make it useful in treating various types of eczema.
The plant-based extract is effective in improving the symptoms of the inflammation, without the adverse side effects associated with the chemical alternatives. A 2011 study by Skane University Hospital’s Joana Wallengren, entitled “Tea tree oil attenuates experimental contact dermatitis” showed that tea tree oil was a more efficient eczema treatment than topic applications of ichthammol or zinc oxide.
In the initial eczema flare-ups, itching is the major cause of discomfort. The tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory and antifungal abilities reduce itching, helping the patient to experience some level of comfort. Also, in eczema, the protective layer of the skin is damaged. The skin becomes vulnerable to microbial agents that may attack and cause further infections.
The anti-inflammatory capabilities of the tea tree oil also prevent swelling and reddening of the skin. The tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties, which enable it to kill the infectious microbes, preventing infections and the spread of the itchy patches to other parts of the body.
When a person is suffering from the eczema flare-ups, the integrity of the outer, protective layer of the skin is undermined, increasing the risk of free radicals further damaging the skin. When the victim applies the tea tree oil for eczema as a remedy to the skin, the antioxidants present in the oil neutralize the free radicals.
The antioxidants prevent further damage of the skin, reducing pain and the development of wounds. The antiseptic properties of the tea tree essential oil deliver a soothing effect, which goes a long way in relieving the itchy rash that eczema patients experience.
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The soothing effect also reduces further damage to the skin, as it lowers the urge to scratch. Scratching is strongly discouraged, as it worsens the symptoms of eczema and causes pain.
What are the Benefits of Tea Tree Oil for Eczema Treatment?
The tea tree essential oil is an effective alternative to the chemical treatments for eczema. Numerous research reports are documenting the effectiveness of the tea tree oil. Here are some benefits of the tea tree oil treatment as a remedy for eczema.
Reduction of Inflammation of the Skin
The tea tree oil has powerful anti-inflammatory characteristics which explain its ability to alleviate the irritation, swelling, and redness that is typical of eczema.
According to a 2013 research review article published in the International Journal of Dermatology, the anti-inflammatory properties are attributable to terpinen-4-ol, a significant component of the tea tree oil that makes the plant extract useful in eczema treatment.
Irritation and swelling are severe symptoms of eczema, and when they are managed, the patient experiences a significant sense of relief.
Reduction of Allergic Reactions on the Skin
Allergens, which irritate the skin often cause eczema. The hypersensitivity of the skin to allergens and irritants such as nickel results in swelling, reddening, and itching of the skin. The application of the tea tree oil for eczema helps to reduce the allergic reactions of the skin to various allergens.
In a 2005 study by Pearce et al. published in the Journal of Inflammation Research, the researchers examined the impact of the topical application of the tea tree oil on contact hypersensitivity induced by nickel in human skin. High-dose, pure tea tree oil was applied to one sample of participants, while another group got a 5% tea tree oil lotion.
The application containing 100% tea tree oil had better outcomes for the patients than the ointment that had 5% tea tree oil. Since allergens worsen the symptoms of eczema, the tea tree oil application can be a useful solution for patients whose skin is hypersensitive to different allergens.
The Tea Tree Oil Fights Off Viruses
The tea tree oil has antiviral properties, which make it a useful solution for viral infections. When a person is suffering from eczema, their skin is prone to a wide range of infectious agents. Often, dermatitis causes breakage of the skin. Sometimes, the blisters and weeping sores provide quick points of infection.
The antiviral ability of the tea tree oil comes in handy in killing any viruses that may infect the itchy patches in the skin. Considering that viruses cause a wide range of ailments depending on the type of virus, the antiviral characteristics of the tea tree oil shield the patients from suffering from the possible viral infections.
The tea tree applications have preventive and curative effects. In a person who suffers from eczema but has no viral infections yet, the oil prevents potential infections. Where the viral infections are already in the skin, the tea tree oil fights the viral agents and neutralizes them.
The Tea Tree Oil Relieves Itching Skin
Itching is probably the most significant indication of eczema. Any effective anti-eczema treatment should, therefore, have the property of reducing itching.
A 2006 review of the literature on the use of the tea tree oil for eczema treatment and other cutaneous medical conditions showed that the essential oil was an effective remedy for an itchy rash on the skin, which is characteristic of eczema.
The application of a skin shampoo containing 5% tea tree oil showed significant improvements in the itchiness of the skin in patients suffering from the disease. These findings have been corroborated by multiple studies, further suggesting that eczema is a practical solution for the itchy skin.
The Tea Tree Oil Eliminates Dandruff and Seborrheic Eczema
The antifungal properties of the tea tree oil help in the reduction of the yeast activity that leads to seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff. A seborrheic dermatitis is a protracted form of eczema that is marked by scaly patches on the scalp.
Research has proven the effectiveness of the tea tree oil application in the treatment of dandruff and Seborrheic eczema. It is imperative to take precautions when preparing and applying the tea tree essential oil on the affected skin, considering that high-dose applications may induce adverse reactions in some people.
The Tea Tree Oil Heals Wounds
People with eczema often have small wounds on their skin. The wounds may be a result of scratching of the itchy patches. Blisters and swollen skin may also degenerate into grievous wounds. In a 2013 study by Karen Chin and Barbara Cordell, and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, showed that the tea tree essential oil healed wounds faster than the alternative treatments used in the study.
Although further research is recommended to ascertain the effectiveness of the tea tree treatment, the findings in the study suggest that the essential oil has additional benefits. The efficiency of the tea tree oil is attributable to the antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that have been documented in previous studies.
Safety Considerations When Using the Tea Tree Essential Oil
The tea tree oil is generally safe for topical use, but certain precautions should be considered when using it to optimize the results and prevent adverse reactions. First, expectant and lactating mothers should not use the tea tree oil applications, except with the guidance of their physicians.
Also, there is no conclusive research evidence that the tea tree oil is safe for use by infants. Moreover, the tea tree oil for eczema treatment should not be used orally. When the oil is ingested, it causes rashes, drowsiness, hallucinations, diarrhea, confusion, and loss of motor control.
Different people react differently to various treatments. It is imperative to seek the input of a doctor before taking or administering the tea tree oil applications for the treatment of eczema.
Generally, the tea tree oil has been used for hundreds of years to treat eczema, among other skin complications. There is a growing body of research that shows that the tea tree oil applications are effective in reducing the itchiness of the skin, preventing and alleviating fungal, viral, and protozoan infections, and treating allergic reactions. When used with proper precautions, the tea tree oil can be a powerful remedy for eczema.