Tea tree oil: cutaneous effects of the extracted oil of Melaleuca alternifolia

Dermatitis. 2004 Jun;15(2):59-66. doi: 10.2310/6620.2004.04003.


The use of botanical extracts for their perceived therapeutic benefits has gained increased popularity in this country and abroad. In particular, tea tree oil (the extracted oil of Melaleuca alternifolia) has gained widespread use for its purported antimicrobial and therapeutic effects. In parallel with this increased use is an expanding series of reported adverse effects, including allergic contact dermatitis, systemic contact dermatitis, linear immunoglobulin A disease, erythema multiforme-like id reactions, and systemic hypersensitivity reactions. We present a review of tea tree oil with regard to its history, chemistry, purported medicinal uses, and possible adverse cutaneous effects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / adverse effects*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / pathology
  • Humans
  • Melaleuca / adverse effects*
  • Phytotherapy / adverse effects
  • Plant Leaves
  • Tea Tree Oil / adverse effects*


  • Allergens
  • Tea Tree Oil