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What Is a Tea Tree Antiseptic?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Tea tree antiseptic oil is a mild anti-fungal and antibacterial substance distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia or tea tree. A substance traditionally used in Australian aboriginal medicine, tea tree oil has a variety of medicinal uses. Tea tree antiseptic can cause rashes or burns when undiluted, and may cause allergic reactions in some people. For medicinal purposes, it is typically used in a topical formula, and is not meant to be ingested.

Tea trees are native to Australia, and derive their name from an old custom of substituting the leaves of the plant for real tea. The antiseptic oil is distilled from the leaves of the plant, and for many centuries was used by Aboriginal Australians for wound care and to treat infections on the skin. Commercial production of tea tree antiseptic began in the early 20th century, after modern scientific evaluation showed that the oil had beneficial antiseptic properties. Tea tree oil is now sold as an essential oil, but is also used as an additive in facial products, hair care products, soaps, and antiseptic gels and ointments.

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One of the best known uses for tea tree antiseptic is in the treatment of acne. Usually applied in a diluted form, tea tree oil has been shown to diminish oiliness and reduce acne breakouts without the drying and irritation caused by more traditional acne fighters, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Using pure essential oil on the skin can lead to some burning and reddening, so skin care experts often recommend putting a drop or two of essential oil on a cotton ball and dipping the ball in water before applying. Many acne treatments that use natural rather than chemical ingredients include tea tree oil in their formulas.

Tea tree antiseptic is also added to hair care products to combat oiliness and defeat dandruff. It may be useful against mild or occasional dandruff, as its anti-fungal properties have been shown to be effective against the fungi typically held responsible for this unpleasant condition. Tea tree oil may not be beneficial for those with dry, damaged, or chemically altered hair, as it can have a drying effect.

Some alternative medical experts believe that tea tree antiseptic can be extremely effective against all types of bacterial and fungal skin infections, including antibiotic-resistant strains of infections, such as MRSA. According to one scientific study, topical skin products containing tea tree oil were shown to be quite effective against drug-resistant staphylococcus infections, and examined bacteria showed no sign of developing a resistance to the natural product. How much of a role tea tree antiseptic played in the healing is not fully known, but some experts suggest the potential use of natural products such as tea tree oil against drug-resistant bacteria is well worth further investigation.

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