The aboriginal people of Australia have used tea tree oil as a traditional medicine for cuts and wounds

Some skin care products tout tea tree oil as its main ingredient. Healthline.com in May lauded its benefits for not only the skin, but nails and hair. Is it truly effective?

The aboriginal people of Australia say it is; they have used tea tree oil as a traditional medicine for cuts and wounds, says the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The oil comes from a small tree native to Queensland and New South Wales, Australia, and is not to be confused with the plants and bushes from which drinking tea is made.

Nccih.nih.gov clarifies that although “only a small amount of research has been done on the topical use of tea tree oil for health conditions in people … a limited amount of research indicates that tea tree oil might be helpful for acne, nail fungus and athlete’s foot.”

Healthline.com says tea tree oil also can aid in relief of:


— Dry skin and eczema
— Itchy skin
— Inflammation
— Psoriasis

Verywellhealth.com in September added to the list dandruff and ringworm.

Each condition requires a different regimen of tea tree oil. Healthline.com makes clear that tea tree oil should be diluted with a carrier oil, such as olive, coconut or almond, before direct application to skin or hair. Typically the ratio is a few drops of tea tree oil to about 12 drops of a carrier oil.

NCCIH warns that tea tree oil should not be swallowed: “Taking it orally can cause serious symptoms such as confusion and ataxia (loss of muscle coordination).” Also, tea tree oil used around the eye area can cause redness and irritation.

Not all tea tree oil users extol praises. Some have experienced an allergic reaction, points out verywellhealth.com. Reactions might range from a mild rash to severe blisters.

If you’re considering using tea tree oil, talk with a health professional first.