Tea-tree oil (an essential oil of the Australian native tree Melaleuca alternifolia) has long been regarded as a useful topical antiseptic agent in Australia and has been shown to have a variety of antimicrobial activities; however, only anecdotal evidence exists for its efficacy in the treatment of various skin conditions. We have performed a single-blind, randomised clinical trial on 124 patients to evaluate the efficacy and skin tolerance of 5% tea-tree oil gel in the treatment of mild to moderate acne when compared with 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion. The results of this study showed that both 5% tea-tree oil and 5% benzoyl peroxide had a significant effect in ameliorating the patients’ acne by reducing the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions (open and closed comedones), although the onset of action in the case of tea-tree oil was slower. Encouragingly, fewer side effects were experienced by patients treated with tea-tree oil.
Bassett IB, Pannowitz DL, Barnetson RS