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Tea Tree Oil to Treat Hypertrophic Scarring

by
author image Kerstin Cunningham
Based in London, Kerstin Cunningham has been writing for medical and science journals since 1992. Her reviews and research publications have appeared in a number of peer-reviewed journals. She holds a number of qualifications, which include nursing, an LLM in medical law and ethics and a Ph.D. in science.
Tea Tree Oil to Treat Hypertrophic Scarring
Tea Tree oil is obtained from the leaves and twigs of Melaleuca alternifolia Photo Credit Spike Mafford/Photodisc/Getty Images

Tea Tree oil is derived from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to New South Wales, Australia. Tea Tree oil is known for a number of health benefits such as antiseptic, antibacterial, anti fungal and antiviral. It is non-irritating though like all essential oils should be used in caution in those with sensitive skins.

Hypertrophic Scarring

Hypertrophic scars differ from normal scars by their appearance and symptoms. Hypertrophic scars are usually raised and red, and patients may experience symptoms such as itching, an abnormal sensation or pain. Hypertrophic scars are common after burn injuries and following some forms of surgery though it is not understood which individuals will develop this type of scarring. No single treatment is effective for all scars.

Burns and Tea Tree Oil Treatment

A study published in the journal "Burns," June 2003, estimated that 67 percent of burns patients will develop hypertrophic scarring. Jandera and colleagues in "Burns," May 2000, showed that a dressing made from Melaleuca, Tea Tree Oil, cooled the wound more effectively than water. They also showed that this dressing increased wound healing possibly due to reduced damage caused by the increased cooling effect. However, Cuttle and colleagues in "Burns," in 2008, showed that some alternative treatments including Tea Tree oil did not improve scar appearance after a burn.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Hypertrophic scarring has been associated with an increased inflammatory response. Tea Tree oil has been shown to alter a number of inflammatory mediators. Reducing some of these mediators should improve both wound-healing and scarring.

Hydration

Hydrating scars has been shown to improve their appearance. Essential oils such as tea tree oil are not only antibacterial but are hydrating. Essential oils can be used to massage scar tissue, a study published in the "Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies" showed that children who underwent massage of their burns showed improved range of movement and mood.

Cautions

Tea tree oil should never be used undiluted on the skin and should never be taken internally. It can cause allergic reactions in some, irritation and sensitivty to light, or phototoxicity, which can lead to burns.

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