Tea Tree Oil Eczema

There are many over-the-counter eczema treatments, but using tea tree oil for eczema can be just as effective. Certain individuals should not use tea tree oil, and those who can use it should do so carefully.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a blanket term for a group of skin conditions that make skin itchy, red and inflamed. There are different types of eczema that have different causes and triggers, but all eczema has at least some of the following symptoms:

  • Dry, sensitive skin
  • Inflamed skin
  • Severe itching
  • Dark colored patches of skin
  • Rough, leathery skin
  • Scaly patches of skin
  • Oozing or crusting
  • Swelling

Eczema is extremely common. Babies and children often get eczema on their faces, but it can affect any region of skin. The condition usually subsides as a child ages, but it can continue into adulthood. It is also possible for the condition to develop in adulthood.

Allergic reactions are common causes of eczema, but there is not always an identifiable allergen. There is no cure for eczema, but there are over-the-counter and prescription medications for it. Some people choose to use home remedies.

Does tea tree oil work for eczema?

Many people successfully treat eczema using tea tree oil, which is derived from an Australian plant called Melaleuca alternifolia. Research has shown that tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This is how tea tree oil may reduce the swelling of eczema and prevent infections in the affected skin.

Research on the effectiveness of tea tree oil for eczema is still limited, but there have been a few studies done. A 2002 study was the first controlled trial to show that tea tree oil could reduce skin inflammation caused by allergic reactions.

Additionally, a 2011 study found tea tree oil was more effective in treating eczema than zinc oxide and clobetasone butyrate, two common conventional treatments for eczema.

How to use tea tree oil for eczema

You can use tea tree oil to create your own topical eczema treatment. You only need two ingredients: tea tree oil and a carrier oil.

The first important step in the process is purchasing tea tree oil from a reputable company. The FDA does not regulate essential oils, so it is important to read online reviews and choose a brand that produces high-quality oil.

Some tea tree oil bottles may list the concentration of terpinen, the "active ingredient" in tea tree oil. Choose one that has a concentration between 10 and 40%. If the terpinen concentration is not listed, that does not necessarily mean the oil is poor quality. What is most important is the manufacturer's reputation.

Once you have selected and purchased a tea tree oil, you will also need to purchase a carrier oil. Tea tree oil should not be applied directly to eczema without diluting it first, because pure tea tree oil has a drying effect. Gentle, moisturizing carrier oils include the following:

  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • sunflower oil
  • jojoba oil
  • almond oil
  • avocado oil

For every 12 drops of carrier oil, add one or two drops of tea tree oil. One teaspoon has about 99 drops of oil in it, so to get the 12 to one ratio, you can add eight drops of tea tree oil for every teaspoon of carrier oil.

If you are using coconut oil as your carrier oil, you may have to melt it before you can mix it. Coconut oil is solid at higher temperatures than the other oils. You can melt coconut oil using a double boiler - a glass or metal bowl on top of a boiling pot of water.

Once you have mixed your oils, apply a small amount of the mixture to a patch of skin on your forearm that does not have a rash. You should test the oil on an unaffected patch of skin first, to make sure you do not have an allergic reaction to the tea tree oil.

If you experience no redness or irritation on the clean patch of skin after several hours, go ahead and apply the oil mixture to your eczema rash. You can gently rub it in like you would any other skin cream. Apply the oil two or three times a day.

Another way you can use tea tree oil for eczema is to add tea tree oil to a warm bath. One or two tablespoons of tea tree oil in a bathtub can help reduce the skin's inflammation. Be sure to moisturize after getting out of the bath to prevent further dryness.

You may not see improvement from the tea tree oil right away. Continue to use it for 30 days before deciding that the tea tree oil is not helping. However, if your eczema gets worse after applying the tea tree oil solution to it, you should stop using it immediately.

What about using a moisturizer that contains tea tree oil?

Some moisturizers or soaps may contain tea tree oil. You might want to use one of these products if you do not have the time to make your own blend of tea tree oil and carrier oil.

If you are going to use a moisturizer or soap that contains tea tree oil, check the ingredients to make sure that the product does not contain anything that could exacerbate your eczema. Alcohol, fragrance and parabens are all common lotion ingredients that can make eczema worse.

Is tea tree oil safe for children?

Tea tree oil is generally considered safe, but you should consult your child's pediatrician before using it to treat their eczema. If you are using tea tree oil to treat a baby's eczema, you should never apply the solution near the mouth or hands. Tea tree oil can be toxic when ingested, so you must take care that your baby does not ingest any oil.

Is tea tree oil safe for pregnant women?

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consult a doctor before using tea tree oil. As of yet, there has not been sufficient research on how tea tree oil can impact pregnancy.