What is the role of tea tree oil in botanical dermatology?

Updated: Jun 10, 2021
  • Author: Glen H Crawford, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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The Myrtaceae or Myrtle family is composed of more than 100 genera and more than 3000 species. Included in this family is the genus Eucalyptus, which alone contains approximately 500 species. Most of the commercially important members of the Melaleuca genus are found in Australia and New Zealand, but other species are grown in Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, and Malaysia.

Tea tree oil is an essential oil distilled from the leaves of the hardwood tree, Melaleuca alternifolia. The oil can be found in numerous cosmetic and household products, including massage oils; aromatherapy candles, compresses, and inhalers; mouthwashes; laundry detergents and fabric softeners; and moisturizing creams, among others Tea tree oil is being increasingly used for its purported beneficial medicinal effects. In parallel with this increased use is an expanding series of reported adverse effects, including allergic contact dermatitis, systemic contact dermatitis, linear IgA disease, erythema multiforme–like id reactions, and systemic hypersensitivity reactions. [17]

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