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Les effets de l'huile essentielle d'arbre à thé sur les marques d'acné.

Can Tea Tree Oil Fade the Scars Left by Pimples?

Following a skin trauma such as an acne outbreak, the skin heals. This natural and healing process can nevertheless result in various types of more or less permanent marks. Tea tree oil is a natural ingredient known to be effective in fighting acne outbreaks. Is it effective on the scars that remain after these skin breakouts?

A Closer Look at the Two Types of Acne Scars

Unlike scars, acne marks can disappear spontaneously after a few weeks or even a few months. Depending on the "color" they take on and the underlying biological process behind their formation, they are classified into two categories:

These are flat brown to black spots, depending on the color of the skin, which occur following a lesion or inflammation of the skin. This post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is due to an excessive production of melanin, a pigment present in the skin whose main function is to protect the skin cells from UV rays. Indeed, during an inflammation, pro-inflammatory cytokines will stimulate the activity of melanocytes, cells that produce melanin. This type of mark is more common in mixed to darker phototypes.

These pink to red marks are caused by vasodilation of superficial skin vessels and are more visible on fair skin: they are also called post-inflammatory erythematous marks.

The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Tea Tree Oil

The essential oil of tea tree is extracted by hydrodistillation of the leaves of tea tree. Also called melaleuca, with alternate leaves, a shrub native to New Caledonia and Madagascar. The main producing country today is Australia. It is known for its strong anti-inflammatory power.

How does it work?

Work over the past decade has demonstrated that this essential oil affects a range of immune responses, both in vitro and in vivo. For example, the water-soluble components of tea tree oil can inhibit the production of approximately 50% of certain inflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-1 (IL-1), and IL-10 and approximately 30% of prostaglandin E2 after 40 hours.

Further examination of the water-soluble fraction of this essential oil identified terpinen-4-ol, terpineol, and 1,8-cin-ole as the major components, but of these, only terpinen-4-ol was able to decrease the production of TNF-alpha, IL-1, IL-8, IL-10, and prostaglandin E2 by lipopolysaccharide-activated monocytes. Furthermore, work has also shown that terpinen-4-ol, but not 1,8-cineole or terpineol, modulates the vasodilation and plasma extravasation associated with inflammation induced by histamine release in humans.

Is Tea Tree Oil Effective Against Post-Inflammatory Acne Marks?

Several studies have proven that this essential oil, when applied topically, will act on the marks by reducing itching and redness. It is thus recommended for skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea.

Concerning the effectiveness of this essential oil against acne marks, to date, few studies have demonstrated this action. In fact, the studies conducted on this subject concern formulas based on tea tree essential oil added to other ingredients.

For example, researcher MAZZARELLO and his team have shown that a cream containing 3% tea tree essential oil, 20% propolis and 10% aloe vera is more effective in reducing acne and erythematous scars than a synthetic preparation based on erythromycin, an antibacterial antibiotic commonly used in the treatment of acne. Another 2013 study can be cited in which researchers examined the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects of a mixture of 3% tea tree essential oil, 2% lavender essential oil and 95% jojoba vegetable oil. The total number of inflammatory lesions was significantly reduced in the treated subjects after 4 weeks.

Nevertheless, these studies do not allow us to judge the "anti-marking" effect of tea tree oil alone.

In any case, the use of tea tree oil is very effective in reducing acne outbreaks, which contributes to reducing their severity and therefore the risk of scarring.

Furthermore, a recent study from 2023 defines this essential oil as an effective natural ingredient for reducing post-inflammatory acne marks and promoting healing.

Sources :

  • SHIN S. & al. Antimicrobial and improvement effects of tea tree and lavender oils on acne lesions. Journal of Convergence for Information Technology (2013).

  • Thèse de M. NIEL - "Traitement de l’acné par la phytothérapie et l’aromathérapie" (2016).

  • ÇALISKAN K. U. & al. Tea tree oil and its use in aromatherapy. Current Perspectives on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (2018).

  • SOTGIU M. A. & al. Treatment of acne with a combination of propolis, tea tree oil, and Aloe vera compared to erythromycin cream: Two double-blind investigations. Clinical Pharmacology: Advances and Applications (2018).

  • WALASEK-JANUSZ M. & al. Essential oils in the treatment of various types of acne - a review. Plants (2023).

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