Friday, June 01, 2007

Curing Acne with Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has proven to be a very powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. Best known as an alternative acne remedy, this versatile potion has fans among doctors and consumers alike. It has been found to have anti-microbial properties, so it is often applied topically to kill acne-causing bacteria. It is well known for its numerous beneficial effects as a natural, deep cleansing, antiseptic, antiviral and antimicrobial agent, as well as an immuno-stimulant. Therefore, it has the ability of deep cleansing oily or troubled skin and hair types, as it helps to remove harmful bacteria, fighting the effects of grease, pollution, and dirt.

What is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil comes from the Australian paperbark tree, and has been used traditionally as a folk remedy by Australian aborigines. It has powerful anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral qualities. There are close to 300 varieties of Melaleuca alternifolia (the Latin name for the tea tree), but only one produces the medicinal oil. Tea tree oil has been traditionally used for such maladies as athlete’s foot, body odor, bad breath, and cold sores. It has been proven effective killing acne bacteria, when topically applied. Historically, the leaves were used as a substitute for tea, which is how tea tree oil got its name. The part used medicinally is the oil from the leaves.

How has it Been Used?
Tea tree oil has a 70 year history of safe use, and scientific data to support claims about its properties. Tea tree oil has been used as an antiseptic for burns, cuts and insect bites. It has also been used for acne, eczema and fungal infections of the skin (i.e., athlete's foot). A small number of people are allergic to the oil, and experience skin reactions at low concentrations. It is especially recommended for teenagers, those with greasy skin or acne.

How do you Use it for Acne?
Many acne sufferers’ skin is very sensitive to tea tree oil. Therefore, it’s important to start out with a very mild dose, and experiment with just a small part of your skin. If your skin is aggravated by it, then either choose a lower dose, or try another acne treatment all together. Apply this product to the affected area of skin as directed. Follow all directions on the product package. If you are uncertain about any of the product information, consult your doctor or pharmacist. This product is for external use only. If your condition persists or worsens, or if you think you may have a serious medical problem, seek immediate medical attention.

Precautions and Limitations of Use.
Some acne sufferers don't realize that you should not aggressively apply the undiluted oil onto acne lesions. This can irritate skin, causing redness, blistering, over-drying, and itching. Tea tree oil should never be taken internally, even in small quantities. It can cause impaired immune function, diarrhea, and potentially fatal central nervous system depression (excessive drowsiness, sleepiness, confusion, or coma). Seek medical attention if you experience symptoms of overdose: excessive drowsiness, sleepiness, poor coordination, diarrhea, or vomiting. Keep tea tree oil out of the reach of children and pets. If an overdose is suspected, contact your local poison control center or emergency room immediately. Occasionally, people may have allergic reactions to tea tree oil, ranging from mild contact dermatitis to severe blisters and rashes. Tell your doctor immediately if you experience rash or skin irritation. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist. Tea tree oil is not recommended for use during pregnancy, or during breast-feeding. Before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription medications you may use, especially any other medicated skin products.

The Bottom Line.
Does tea tree oil cure acne? The answer is yes and no. As an anti-bacterial agent, it can help decrease the symptoms of skin inflamed with acne bacteria. However, many users will be sensitive to it. Like all topical acne treatments, it can't cure acne totally. The only way to do that is internally. Tree tea oil is a proven alternative treatment for acne, and should be considered seriously by any acne sufferer. The potential benefits for curing acne with tea tree oil outweigh the risks.

Vern Beatty is an engineer who writes articles about business and the internet.

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