Tea tree oil reduces the swelling associated with the efferent phase of a contact hypersensitivity response

Inflamm Res. 2002 May;51(5):236-44. doi: 10.1007/pl00000299.


Objective: To examine the anti-inflammatory activities of tea tree oil (TTO) in vivo.

Methods: Mice were sensitized to a chemical hapten, trinitrochlorobenzene, on their ventral skin and 7 days later challenged (or re-exposed) on their dorsal skin with the same hapten.

Results: TTO applied 30 min before or up to 7 h after to the same dorsal site as hapten challenge caused a significant reduction in skin swelling after 24 h. TTO reduced oedema but not the influx of inflammatory cells. This finding was supported by the inability of TTO to suppress TNFalpha-induced E-selectin expression by human umbilical vein endothelial cells. TTO did not suppress irritant- or ultraviolet B-induced oedema.

Conclusion: Topical TTO, specifically the TTO components, terpinen-4-ol and alpha-terpineol can regulate the oedema associated with the efferent phase of a contact hypersensitivity response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / biosynthesis
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coloring Agents
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / drug therapy*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / pathology
  • Edema / drug therapy*
  • Edema / pathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Eosine Yellowish-(YS)
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hematoxylin
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Picryl Chloride / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Picryl Chloride / toxicity
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Tea Tree Oil / chemistry
  • Tea Tree Oil / therapeutic use*
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Coloring Agents
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Eosine Yellowish-(YS)
  • Hematoxylin
  • Picryl Chloride