Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Acne Health Center

Font Size

Tea Tree Oil Treats Skin Problems

Best known as an alternative acne remedy, this versatile potion has fans among doctors and consumers alike.
WebMD Feature

Beth Seigenthaler stumbled across a promotional display for tea tree oil in her local health food store while she was suffering from a particularly bad episode of fever blisters. Having had the condition since childhood, she figured she might as well try the product, which claimed to help a variety of skin conditions. She found that the pain of the blisters disappeared immediately, and she healed more quickly than she ever had before.

"I've used it on other skin conditions, including a plantar wart and sunburn," says Seigenthaler, who lives in Nashville. "I have bottles of it at my office, at home, and in the car. I take it on every vacation. I'm a walking commercial for the product."

There is some scientific evidence to support Seigenthaler's good experience. A 1990 study published in the Medical Journal of Australia reported that a solution of 5% tea tree oil treated acne just as well as 5% benzoyl peroxide.

Wonder from Down Under

Tea tree oil comes from the Australian paperbark tree and has been used traditionally as a folk remedy by Australian aborigines. 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 became popular in the 1920s after Australian servicemen reported its therapeutic uses. In 1922, the Royal Society of New South Wales reported that the oil was a particularly effective antiseptic.

Tea tree oil has been used to treat mouth ulcers and abscesses, conjunctivitis, acne, boils, impetigo, psoriasis, dandruff, vaginitis, thrush, septic wounds, cuts and abrasions, carbuncles, pus-filled infections, and ringworm. It is also said to ease the pain of burns and hemorrhoids and help rid the hair and body of lice and ticks.

According to naturopathic and homeopathic doctor Asa Hershoff, DC, of Los Angeles and San Francisco, tea tree oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties and stimulates the immune system.

"It's a reliable antiseptic," says Hershoff, author of Homeopathic Remedies: A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and Their Homeopathic Treatments. "There just aren't that many substances that have all the therapeutic applications that tea tree oil does." And though tea tree oil is slower to show benefits than benzoyl peroxide, says Hershoff, it results in less itching, scaling, and irritation.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Girl with acne
See if you know how to control your acne.
happy woman with clear skin
Triggers and treatments for blackheads, whiteheads, and cystic acne.
Bride with acne
Dos and don’ts for hiding breakouts.
close-up of a young man soaping his face
Why adults get acne and how to treat it.
Boy cleaning acne face
HPV Vaccine Future
beauty cream
Bride with acne
Woman applying mineral makeup
Arrows pointing on teen girl blemish

WebMD Special Sections