Tea tree oil (TTO) is an essential oil, steam-distilled from the Australian native plant, Melaleuca alternifolia. It has a minimum content of terpinen-4-ol and a maximum content of 1, 8-cineole. Terpinen-4-ol is a major TTO component which exhibits strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Tea tree oil exerts antioxidant activity and has been reported to have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against bacterial, viral, fungal, and protozoal infections affecting skin and mucosa. Several studies have suggested the uses of TTO for the treatment of acne vulgaris, seborrheic dermatitis, and chronic gingivitis. It also accelerates the wound healing process and exhibits anti-skin cancer activity. This review opens up new horizons for dermatologists in the use of this herbal agent.
© 2012 The International Society of Dermatology.