Natural solution for skin infections
TEA tree oil has a long history of use for medicinal purposes. It was identified as an antiseptic by the New South Wales chief chemist in the 1920s.
Many tea tree oil products are listed as antiseptics by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration but the oil has yet to be registered as a pharmaceutical. Considerable research – much of it by the Tea Tree Oil Research Group at The University of Western Australia – has revealed tea tree oil to be effective as an antifungal and anti-inflammatory aid.
The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation has funded the bulk of this research.
Fungi are significant human pathogens, causing common superficial infections such as tinea and vaginal thrush.
A study conducted in 2002 found that tea tree oil can inhibit and kill yeasts, dermatophytes (which cause superficial nail and skin infections) and other filamentous fungi.
It is particularly effective against vaginal thrush or Candida albicans.
The authors of the study concluded that infections or conditions associated with fungi – including oral or vaginal candidiasis, tinea and ringworm and dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis – may be treated with topical tea tree oil.
Anti-inflammatory potential The ability of tea tree oil to reduce two types of human skin inflammation was studied by researchers at Flinders University in South Australia.
The first type of inflammation tested was related to “immediate” hypersensitivity responses in skin, including hives and bee stings.
The Flinders University study showed that applying 100% tea tree oil significantly reduced skin inflammation in a group of volunteers injected with the irritant histamine.
The second type of inflammation reaction tested was contact hypersensitivity such as sensitivity to nickel, particularly women who wear jewellery that contains nickel.
A clinical trial found that applying 100% tea tree oil to nickel-induced rashes reduced inflammation in some patients.
The antibacterial and antifungal properties of tea tree oil prompted an investigation of its effectiveness in treating acne.
A clinical trial involving 124 teenage patients evaluated the effectiveness of 5% tea tree oil gel in treating mild to moderate acne when compared with 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion (a commonly used topical anti-acne treatment).
The results showed that both 5% tea tree oil gel and 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion had a significant effect in ameliorating the patient’s acne.
Encouragingly, fewer side effects – such as skin dryness, itching, stinging, burning and redness – were experienced by patients treated with tea tree oil.
This article is brought to you by Asia Healthcare Sdn Bhd.
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