Safety and side effects
Most people can use tea tree oil topically with no problems. However, tea tree oil can cause:
- Skin irritation
- Allergic skin rash (dermatitis)
Don't use tea tree oil if you have eczema.
Tea tree oil is toxic when swallowed. Serious side effects can occur, including:
- A lack of muscle control or coordination of voluntary movements (ataxia)
- Decreasing levels of consciousness
One study suggests that repeated exposure to lavender oil and tea tree oil might have led to the swelling of the breast tissue (gynecomastia) in young boys.
Although tea tree oil is often used in combination with other drugs when treating bacterial or fungal skin conditions, there's currently no evidence showing drug interactions.
Oct. 24, 2017
- Tea tree oil. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tea/treeoil.htm. Accessed Aug. 7, 2017.
- Hammer KA. Treatment of acne with tea tree oil (melaleuca) products: A review of efficacy, tolerability and potential modes of action. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents. 2015;45:106.
- Tea tree oil. Micromedex 2.0 Healthcare Series. http://www.micromedexsolutions.com. Accessed Aug. 7, 2017.
- Tea tree oil. Facts & Comparisons eAnswers. http://www.wolterskluwercdi.com/facts-comparisons-online/. Accessed Aug. 7, 2017.
- Barker SC, et al. An ex vivo, assessor blind, randomised, parallel group, comparative efficacy trial of the ovicidal activity of three pediculicides after a single application — Melaleuca oil and lavender oil, eucalyptus oil and lemon tea tree oil, and a "suffocation" pediculicide. BMC Dermatology. 2011;11:14.
- Henley DV, et al. Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2007;356:479.