Tea tree oil, with its natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, may help keep piercings clean and healthy. Some sources also claim that it can help reduce keloid scars around piercings.
Tea tree oil comes from the Australian tea tree. Topical tea tree oil is a popular traditional remedy for wounds, cuts, and fungal infections.
This article looks at whether tea tree oil is a good remedy for new and older piercings, and whether it can help with scar bumps.
We also discuss how to use it and safety considerations.
According to some review studies, tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains high levels of a substance called terpinen-4-ol, which some researchers believe provides its antimicrobial properties.
Tea tree oil is also an antiseptic, which means that it may help prevent infections around wounds.
That said, it might be best to avoid using tea tree oil on new piercings, as the drying effects of the oil may interrupt the natural healing process.
Instead, most piercing studios tend to recommend that people wash their new piercing with a sterile saltwater solution, which they can make at home following these instructions.
People can use tea tree oil alongside this treatment if they choose, but it is important to ask a professional piercer or healthcare provider first. It is best to follow the guidance of the piercer for appropriate aftercare.
The antibacterial and antiseptic qualities of tea tree oil may help reduce the risk of infections. Infections can make scar tissue worse, so preventing infections may prevent scar tissue from developing.
Raised areas of scar tissue, called keloids, can keep growing even once a wound has healed. They can form anywhere on the body, and piercings can often cause them.
Keloids are harmless but do not go away by themselves. Therefore, if a person wants to get rid of them for cosmetic reasons, they will need to treat them. Surgical removal is one option, but the keloid often regrows with time.
Some articles suggest that tea tree oil could help reduce the appearance of scars. However, there is little high quality evidence that this essential oil is effective for reducing the development of scars or reducing existing scars.
Tea tree oil is safe for most people to apply topically. Tea tree oil may be suitable to use for piercings on the following areas:
- belly button
Tea tree oil can be poisonous if a person swallows it. People should therefore take extra care when using tea tree oil on piercings around the mouth, and they should avoid using it inside the mouth to treat tongue piercings.
Undiluted tea tree oil is likely to be too strong to use on the skin. People can dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or almond oil. Using lower concentrations of tea tree oil may help reduce the risk of any irritation on the skin.
That said, some tea tree oil comes ready to use, so be sure to read the label.
Before using tea tree oil for the first time, a person should do a patch test by putting a small amount of diluted oil on an area of skin other than the piercing. If they have no reaction to the tea tree oil after a day or two, it is likely safe to use on the piercing.
To use, apply the tea tree solution to a cotton swab and wipe it around the piercing. Being gentle with this process can prevent soreness and reduce the risk of dislodging a piercing.
If using a salt-and-water solution to clean a piercing, a person may want to add a few drops of tea tree oil to the solution. They should then wash the area with water to remove any remaining tea tree oil.
Some people may experience an allergic reaction to tea tree oil, which could cause a rash or irritation on their skin. If a person experiences any unpleasant reactions to tea tree oil, they should wash the area of skin with water and stop using the oil.
If someone has a severe allergic reaction, they should seek medical help right away. People with skin sensitivity or a history of skin reactions may want to avoid tea tree oil and stick to using a salt-and-water solution.
People should also take care not to swallow tea tree oil, as it can cause serious problems, including:
- severe rashes
- nausea or vomiting
- ataxia, or a loss of muscle coordination
After getting a piercing, it is best to follow the advice of a professional piercer regarding the appropriate aftercare.
The piercer may suggest using a saline solution of salt and water, which may be enough to keep the piercing clean and prevent infection. People can talk to their piercer if they are thinking of using tea tree oil on their piercing.
Tea tree oil has antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. This may make it an effective oil to apply to piercings to help prevent infections and the formation of scars.
If a person decides to use tea tree oil, they can choose from a variety of brands online.
Undiluted tea tree oil can be harsh on the skin and cause redness or irritation. Diluting it with a carrier oil may reduce the risk of irritation. Washing the pierced area well with water afterward may also help.
Tea tree oil is poisonous if a person swallows it, so seek medical help if this occurs.
If a person notices any irritation or a rash after using tea tree oil, they should wash the area with water and stop using the solution of tea tree oil.
If they experience an infection around their piercing, they should see a health professional for treatment to prevent it from worsening.