How Does Tea Tree Oil for Acne Work?
Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic is extracted from the leaves of an indigenous Australian tree known as Melaleuca alternifolia. Tea tree oil is an excellent skin treatment option, especially for oily, acne-prone skin, which is why it is considered the best natural remedy for acne. Although the use of tea tree oil for acne has been found to be quite effective, not many of us know how it works.
Acne cannot take hold of a person’s skin when one of the conditions that contribute to its development is absent. The application of tea tree oil can help counteract the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, which is why this essential oil is especially useful in the fight against acne.
Tea tree oil consists of antimicrobial compounds that help prevent microbial growth. It contains impressive antibacterial properties known as terpenes, a type of volatile oil, that work against Propionibacterium acnes, effectively destroying the acne-causing bacteria and reducing the level of acne breakouts.
The findings of various studies show that tea tree oil is just as effective as some of the commonly used dermatological cures for acne. According to research, tea-tree oil is rich in terpinene-4-ol, which makes it significantly more effective in treating acne than commercial options like benzoyl peroxide. Terpinene-4-ol causes antimicrobial activity, and this destroys the skin-based bacteria responsible for acne.
Although tea tree oil is not safe for ingestion, this essential oil is perfectly fine for topical application. In addition to this, tea tree oil is non-carcinogenic, which cannot be said about many of the chemical-rich, commercially used cures of acne. It can, therefore, be used as frequently as needed.
Tea tree oil for acne can work its way into skin pores, helping to disinfect the skin. This essential oil can help unblock the sebaceous glands by penetrating deep into the skin and unclogging the pores. Since acne often forms inside the pores, this is where any acne treatments have to reach.
The oily, dead skin cell plugs will repel water but not oil, which is why tea tree oil offers the perfect solution, particularly for oily, acne-prone skin. It will also destroy the acne-causing bacteria living inside the hair follicles, further reducing the likelihood of acne outbreaks. Besides treating inflammation and soothing the skin, this process of disinfection helps dry out whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples, allowing the skin to return to normal.
Tea tree oil also works as a moisturizing solvent and can be utilized as a cleanser. It removes grease and dust easily and helps protect the skin from oxidative stress. When applied, tea tree oil mixes with the skin’s natural oil, preventing the blocked pores from becoming the bacteria’s food. Without nourishment, the acne-causing bacteria won’t grow.
Tea tree oil can also help speed up the skin’s healing process when used. This essential oil can help inhibit the growth of the harmful, acne-causing bacteria known to hinder our skin’s ability to heal. Tea tree oil can, therefore, prove useful to those trapped in a never-ending cycle of acne.
Besides its ability to cuts through dust and grease with ease, tea tree oil has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiseptic properties. In addition to helping treat acne, tea tree oil is also known to have preventative effects on future acne outbreaks.
A drop or two mixed in distilled water can be used to treat acne when applied to the face. However, you can add a few drops of this essential oil to your bath for maximum benefits, especially if other parts of the body are affected. The use of a diluted version of tea tree oil is recommended, especially if you have sensitive skin.
What is Acne?
Acne is defined in scientific terms as a chronic inflammatory skin condition. This definition portrays acne as a progressive, long-term skin disease that our immune systems react to in a way that creates the inflamed, pink-red spots characteristic of acne.
As an affliction of the sebum (oil) glands and hair follicles (pores), acne usually develops due to the combined occurrence of three different skin issues.
- The over-secretion of sebum or oil. Every pore in the skin holds a sebaceous gland that secretes oil. Excessive oil production is the beginning of the acne-causing cycle, which is why oily skin types are more susceptible to acne.
- Trapped dead skin inside of pores. Normally, our skin cells will shed almost completely every 30 days. But this natural process of exfoliation can be a bit slow at times. Your skin’s failure to exfoliate quickly enough will often lead to the accumulation of dead skin cells inside of pores.
- Increased levels of the acne-causing bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes. Acne usually begins inside pores where dead skin cells and pore-clogging plugs of oil provide food for these types of bacteria.
With growth, Propionibacterium acnes often generate immunogenic proteins along with skin-degrading enzymes. Our immune systems react to these immunogenic proteins, causing inflammation. This is manifested as pimples, spots or acne.
Oily skin is the beginning of the acne-causing cycle. Unfortunately, hormonal changes can often make the skin oily, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of developing acne. This is why acne is common during puberty. It is also why women are more susceptible to acne breakouts during their menstrual cycles.
The fact that teenagers and menstruating women are not the only ones affected proves that hormonal change is not the only factor that contributes to the development of acne. In fact, acne is becoming more common in adults. Studies show that lifestyle, diet and stress can contribute to acne outbreaks.
You could be suffering from acne if your skin is plagued with inflammatory spots. Identifying these spots is not hard. Besides being rather painful, they will often cause pink-red inflammation, form a pus-filled head, and can leave brown hyperpigmentation marks when healed.
Does Tea Tree Oil Help with Acne Scars?
Apart from their unsightly appearance, acne scars can affect a person’s level of confidence. But acne scars are not usually easy to remove. Chemical and laser treatment options might not be considered viable alternatives due to their potential costs and the risks involved.
As such, many of us will be looking for a suitable alternative mode of treatment. Fortunately for you, there’s a simple home remedy that can help lighten or fill up mild scars and deep pits. Though it’s not known to many, tea tree oil is probably the most effective home remedy for acne scars.
Does Tea Tree Oil work?
This essential oil has been used to treat a wide variety of skin conditions for a very long time and can be found in an array of cosmetic products. While it’s a known remedy for active acne breakouts, tea tree oil’s effectiveness on acne scars remains somewhat unclear.
Unlike most pimples, acne spots and the resulting scars will often develop deep within the skin. The scars are likely to turn a darker shade with age and exposure to the sun. Although tea tree oil has the potential to help combat these effects, positive outcomes are not guaranteed.
What the Research Says
Tea tree oil is known to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. As such, it can help reduce the inflammation associated with acne and prevent acne lesions. While its effectiveness in treating acne is widely accepted, tea tree oil’s effect on scarring is another matter altogether.
Despite the availability of numerous extensive studies conducted on acne and other related skin conditions, research on the effectiveness of tea tree oil in treating acne scars is still lacking. A study conducted in 2015 established that tea tree oil has clear positive effects when used to treat acne. With regard to the oil’s effect on scarring, however, the findings were not as conclusive. Even so, tea tree oil is thought to reduce the appearance of hypertrophic (raised) scars.
Here are other ways in which tea tree oil can help reduce scarring:
- As a natural antiseptic, tea tree oil has the ability to combat viruses, bacteria and fungus. By fighting such microbes, tea tree oil helps prevent the development of acne and several other skin issues, many of which can lead to scarring.
- As a natural moisturizer, tea tree oil moisturizes the skin, helping to restores its natural oil balance. Excessive production of oil can make the skin susceptible to issues that cause scarring.
- Tea tree oil contains loads of anti-oxidants as well as other nutrients, all of which help keep the skin beautiful and healthy.
- Tea tree oil removes dirt as well as old and dead skin cells from hair follicles, helping to regenerate the skin’s tissue. This allows for the quick growth of healthy new skin and reduces the likelihood of scarring.
- Tea tree oil reduces inflammation, removes dead skin cells and helps in the development of new skin cells, restoring skin elasticity and minimizing the appearance of scars.
- Tea tree oil also penetrates deep into pores, removing toxins and preventing the clogging that contributes to acne outbreaks. This process of disinfection can help lighten scarred areas of the skin.
It is true that acne scars can often develop below the skin’s surface. Even so, the use of this essential oil to help prevent active acne breakouts is bound to provide added benefits. At the very least, it might help reduce both the severity of acne and the risk of scarring.
How to use Tea Tree Oil for Acne Scars
Although its effectiveness in treating acne scars remains unclear, there’s no harm in trying out this remedy. Here are a few ideas on how to use tea tree oil for acne.
Spot treatment: Put some coconut oil in a bowl, add two or three drops of tea tree oil, and then mix it well. Use a Q-tip to apply the mixture directly onto the scars. Let it sit until morning before washing it off.
Mask: Put some yogurt in a bowl and add two or three drops of tea tree oil. Once you’ve mixed it well, apply on your scars. Allow about 20 minutes before washing off.
Mist: Mix one cup of water, a teaspoon of witch hazel and two or three drops of tea tree oil in a bowl. Pour the resulting solution into a spray bottle. Shake the mixture well before you spray it onto your skin. When you are done spraying, use your hands to rub it in.
While this essential oil is considered safe for most users, you’ll want to do a patch test before any full application just to be sure.
Here’s how to perform a patch test:
- Topically apply a small amount of tea tree oil to the inside of the elbow.
- Allow at least 24 hours before washing off.
- The oil is probably safe for application elsewhere if you don’t register any sort of discomfort or irritation within this time.
The manner in which you use the oil will often depend on the kind of product purchased. Before you can use a pure essential oil form, for instance, you’ll want to dilute it with a carrier oil. An ounce of carrier oil is recommended for every 12 drops of essential oil. You can get the best results by using this essential oil for the entire body, applying twice daily.
While the use of too much tea tree oil can often cause irritation, it can be extremely beneficial if used in the right concentrations. Remember, acne scars can take as much as several months to fade. So don’t try to make your scars fade faster, at least not by overusing tea tree oil. This could, in the end, make the scars more noticeable.