There are many options available for over-the-counter acne treatments. Patients commonly ask us about new products that they have seen lining the shelves of their local drugstore. Tea tree oil is a popular treatment for people to ask about; there is a lot of ‘buzz’ about tea tree oil for the treatment of acne, but is tea tree oil for acne treatment a good idea?
Dr. Schweiger explains that, “Tea tree oil has long been considered as an acne treatment, because it has both antimicrobial and antiinflammatory properties. Acne is caused by a combination of p. acnes bacteria and inflammation, so in theory an ingredient with these properties would be an effective treatment. Studies have shown that tea tree oil does have an effect against acne, but it does not work as quickly or effectively as the more traditional over-the-counter ingredients, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.”
Tea tree oil is gentle and maybe effective against acne if used over a long period of time. Unfortunately, tea tree oil has not been studied and proven to be noncomedogenic, meaning that the oil may actually clog your pores and promote the development of acne. We recommend exploring the best options for your acne treatment and discussing with your dermatologist whether tea tree oil makes sense for you to try. Years from now, there may be excellent research showing us the benefits of tea tree oil and recommending the best way to use it for acne. However, for now there is still more research to be done before we regularly recommend its use for treating acne.