Tea Tree Oil for Acne - How Effective?

Acne is one of the most common chronic skin disorder affecting millions of people across the globe.

It is characterized by the outbreak of pimples, whiteheads, blackheads and inflammations along with redness and marks on the skin.

It mostly stays limited to the face and neck region. In case the inflammation reaches deep down the skin, it develops into cysts and nodules which then cause severe cystic and nodular acne respectively.

According to one survey, acne outbreaks affect 17 million people in the United States alone.

This article shall talk about the effectiveness and advantages of using one such organic remedy, of tea tree oil.

What is Tea tree oil?

It simply refers to the oil extracted from the leaves of a tea tree.

This tea tree was natively found on the southeast coast of Australia. It is an essential oil and its color is either yellow or colorless.

The oil extracted thereof is also popularly referred to as the Melaleuca oil.

It has been known to serve a lot of health benefits.

These benefits include fungal infections of the nail, athlete’s foot, ringworm or scabies along with vaginal infection, tooth acne and herpes with various other disorders.

Lately, it has been used as an effective way of treating skin disorders and infections especially acne.

How tea tree oil helps in acne treatment?

Tea tree oil exhibits anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-septic properties all in one.

It contains terpinen-4-ol that exhibits the antimicrobial property of the oil and helps in fighting the acne-causing bacteria and destroys them thereby preventing any further outbreak.

However, its usage should be restricted to topical application and must never be taken in internally.


For the treatment of acne it is usually advised that tea tree oil be applied in a diluted form and not directly as in the latter case it might be too harsh on the skin and cause irritation and dryness.

Though not medically prescribed, its dose must not exceed a 5% concentration of the oil, when used for acne.

This means that in case of dilution, this can be made by adding 5 parts of tea tree oil to 95 parts of water.

Application of tea tree oil  

Tea tree oil can only be used topically and not orally. Enumerated below are different ways in which it can be used topically to treat acne:

  • It can be directly applied to the pimple/ affected area. The oil will penetrate into the skin and kill the bacteria thereby unclogging the pores and the sebaceous glands while at the same times drying out the pimples and blackheads/whiteheads. This can be done by taking a small amount of the oil on a cotton ball and applying it on the affected area as it is left overnight to carry out its mechanism and start the healing process.
  • It can be used as a spot treatment by mixing it with a few drops of aloe vera or honey, as per convenience and using a cotton ball or sponge to apply this on the affected area. Aloe vera or honey will prove of added benefit to the treatment.
  • It can be used by adding to a face mask which can be either from the market or homemade. The homemade pack can be made by using green clay, yogurt or jojoba oil or other such ingredients that are beneficial to the skin. This mask should be applied and left on for 10 to 15 minutes before washing it off with lukewarm water.
  • It can be mixed with sugar powder, olive and honey to be a part of an effective scrub. This scrub should be massaged onto the damp face for 2 to 5 minutes in gentle, circular motions and should then be washed off with warm water. This will help exfoliate and remove the dead skin cells blocking the skin pores.
  • It can also be used by adding 2 to 6 drops of it to your cleanser or moisturizer to be used on a daily basis.
  • In case you are short of time and cannot spend time on preparing masks, you can simply add drops of tea tree oil to your bath.

Benefits and potential side effects of using tea tree oil

There are various skin as well as health benefits of using tea tree oil. Some of them are enumerated below:

  • It can be used to heal cuts and wounds on the skin
  • It can be used for healing insect bites and chickenpox
  • It is used for the treatment of dandruff
  • It can help in reducing fever and headache
  • It is known to be effective in lowering blood pressure
  • It is known to be effective in the treatment of infections.

Potential side effects 

Though extremely rare, the use of tea tree oil might cause the following side effects:

  • It can cause skin irritation and swelling
  • Tea tree oil can cause dryness and burning sensation
  • Along with lavender oil, this can interrupt the hormonal growth of a boy who has still not attained puberty. It may lead, for example, to the development of male breasts, otherwise known as gynecomastia
  • It can cause intoxication when taken orally
  • When taken orally, tea tree oil can also lead to rash

Precautions while using tea tree oil

The following precautions must be maintained while using tea tree oil:

  • It is only meant for external use and must not be taken in by mouth or it may cause intoxication
  • It is not yet established if it can affect conditions of pregnancy and therefore its use must be consulted with a doctor or be avoided as much as possible
  • Its use while nursing a baby or breastfeeding should also be avoided
  • Effectiveness is not yet known in pediatric patients

What users feel about tea tree oil for acne?

We did an analysis of online consumer reviews to determine the effectiveness of tea tree oil from the experience of people. Here is a summary of what they liked and disliked about it:

What they liked about it

  • Good for sensitive skin: A lot of people were of the view that it is a good treatment for people with sensitive skin. This can be attributed to it being organic and not having any harmful chemicals.
  • Time effective: Tea tree oil tends to be a very time effective treatment. In a lot of cases it showed tremendous improvement just over a period of one week. In one case, it healed acne in just 5 days
  • Good for cystic acne: whereas most other treatments fight just the surface acne, this tends to get absorbed into the skin and was seen to be extremely effective even against cystic acne. A lot of consumers used it for cystic acne.

What they did not like about it

  • Dryness: Some consumers were of the view that it made their skin extremely dry. This might be because they must have used a very high concentration or undiluted form of the oil.
  • Smell: Its bad, organic smell tended to repel a few consumers. But they all agreed that over time, you become immune to it and it stops bothering you anymore.


Tea tree oil is a tested organic treatment option for acne. It attacks acne from all side because of its antibacterial, anti-fungal properties and also assists in healing with its antiseptic property.

It is free of the harmful chemicals that other products contain and therefore also has very minimal risk factors.

Its organic nature makes it suitable for treating sensitive skin too.

For all those fed up of the chemical-based products and its side effects, this is a good option and definitely worth one try.

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