Does tea tree oil have a place in the topical treatment of burns?

Burns. 1997 Jun;23(4):349-51. doi: 10.1016/s0305-4179(96)00130-1.


Burnaid is a sorbalene-based cream containing 40 mg/g of tea tree oil and 1 mg/g of triclosan. This investigation was carried out to determine the effect of Burnaid, a commercial tea tree oil preparation, against Enterococcus faecalis (ATCC29212), Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC29213), Escherichia coli (ATCC25922), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC27853), with the activity of the base product in the commercial preparation. The organisms were suspended in sterile saline (0.5 McFarland Standard) and inoculated onto horse blood agar (E. faecalis and S. aureus) or Mueller-Hinton agar (E. coli and P. aeruginosa). One hundred microliters of Burnaid unsterilized, Burnaid sterilized and the base product (Tinasolve) were placed in duplicate in wells cut into the agar plates. Sterility and inactivation cultures were also performed on the samples. None of the samples were found to be contaminated with bacteria prior to testing. Only S. aureus and E. coli showed zones of growth inhibition around the Burnaid and Tinasolve. Zones of growth inhibition (22 mm) were similar for the active product (Burnaid) and the base (Tinasolve). There was no activity against E. faecalis or P. aeruginosa. In view of our findings and literature indicating the cytotoxicity of tea tree oil against human fibroblasts and epithelial cells, it is recommended that this product should not be used on burn wounds.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Burns / drug therapy*
  • Enterococcus faecalis / drug effects
  • Enterococcus faecalis / physiology
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Triclosan / pharmacology


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • Triclosan
  • Tea Tree Oil