Melaleuca trees, Centennial Park, Sydney, Australia – Photo Courtesy: Patty Jansen
We’ve all heard it before – the skin is the largest organ of the body. Covering our entire surface area, the skin protects all the stuff that’s inside by providing the first layer of defense against bacteria and other pathogens. It’s also usually one of the first indicators that something is out of whack in the body – for example, if you’re dehydrated, your skin will be dry, and if you’re stressed, you’ll often get that rogue pimple. The skin can be our personal barometer, letting us know how our bodies react to pressures we’re unknowingly facing.
Natural Treatment for Acne
However, skin can also be very vulnerable because it absorbs whatever we put on it relatively quickly. And especially in cases of acne, we’re usually so desperate that we go get the prescription stuff because we want it to go away. But there are natural options you can try first that just might do the trick without you having to apply strong medicated products to your already stressed-out skin – and one of the best and most powerful of these natural options is tea tree oil. It’s a better alternative than benzoyl peroxide, which has known side effects including itching and dryness. In fact, tea tree oil actually reduces itching.
Used by Australians as an Antiseptic for Long
Tea tree oil is extracted from the Australian Melaleuca tree, and has a long history of use as an antiseptic among the Australian people. It’s got strong antibacterial and antifungal properties and has been proven effective against staphylococcus as well as candida (yeast), with the main active ingredient being the compound Terpinen-4-ol.
Many people also use tea-tree oil on saborrheic dermatitis, more commonly known as dandruff. But tea tree oil is less known – though equally effective – for the treatment of mild to moderate acne. The tee tree oil penetrates the acne, and its antibacterial compounds kill the Propionibacterium at the root of the outbreak.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is widely available in health food stores and in many drugstores as well. It comes in small bottles, but don’t worry – a little goes a long way since it’s mostly diluted. You should start with a mixture of 9 parts water to 1 part tea tree oil and use it for a week before making the solution a little bit stronger to make sure that you don’t have a reaction. Tea tree oil may be natural, but it is very strong!
Wash the affected area thoroughly, then dry, and apply the tea tree oil and water mixture with a clean cotton ball or cloth. After it dries, use a natural moisturizer. You can repeat this daily, and should soon start seeing results. Make sure you also are drinking a lot of water – at least 8 glasses a day! – this is the easiest way to help your skin eliminate all the toxins and bacteria.
Many natural skin care companies are also now making face washes and masks that include tea tree oil in their acne natural treatments; if you’re not comfortable with the instructions here, you can seek out one of these products. We all deserve to have beautiful skin, and we can achieve it without expensive prescriptions.
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.