Is Tea Tree Oil a Safe and Effective Treatment for Nail Fungus

Tea Tree Oil for Toenail Fungus: What’s the Evidence?

The evidence suggests that tea tree oil kills nail fungus. There are some studies which show that tea tree oil works against nail fungus. However, there are other studies which do not support its effectiveness. Some researchers have suggested that the effect of tea tree oil may be due to another chemical or substances present in the plant (see below).

Is Tea Tree Oil a Safe and Effective Treatment for Nail Fungus?

There is no scientific evidence to prove whether tea tree oil kills nail fungus. There are many factors involved in the treatment of nail fungus. For example, if your nails become infected with toenail fungus, you will need to see a doctor immediately. You will probably need to get rid of the infection. If you don’t, then you could develop a life threatening condition called toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) which causes skin lesions and death.

Some experts suggest that tea tree oil may be effective in treating nail fungus but others believe that it doesn’t work at all. There are several reasons why tea tree oil might not work effectively against nail fungus. They include:

Other constituents of the plant may have anti-fungal activity that could be extracted more effectively than terpinen-4-ol.

The plant contains other substances that may interfere with the anti-fungal action of terpinen-4-ol.

The amount of terpinen-4-ol in tea tree oil is not high enough to make a difference.

The chemical composition of the tea tree may vary depending on where it is grown.

The method of extraction may affect the amount of terpinen-4-ol obtained from the plant.

Tea tree oil can cause skin irritation. It can also irritate the skin around the nails and make your condition worse.

Even if you apply tea tree oil to your nails, it is not likely to get into the nail bed. The skin around your nails is not easily permeated.

The use of tea tree oil in treating toenail fungus is controversial and more research is needed before its effectiveness can be supported. The best treatment for nail fungus is a prescription medication from your doctor.

Sources & references used in this article:

Treatment of toenail onychomycosis with 2% butenafine and 5% Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil in cream by TA Syed, ZA Qureshi, SM Ali, S Ahmad… – Tropical Medicine & …, 1999 – Wiley Online Library

Australian tea tree oil guide: First aid kit in a bottle by CB Olsen – 1998 – books.google.com

Herbal medicines for treatment of fungal infections: a systematic review of controlled clinical trials by KW Martin, E Ernst – Mycoses, 2004 – Wiley Online Library

Staphylococcus aureus and wounds: a review of tea tree oil as a promising antimicrobial by L Halcón, K Milkus – American journal of infection control, 2004 – Elsevier

A review of applications of tea tree oil in dermatology by N Pazyar, R Yaghoobi, N Bagherani… – International journal …, 2013 – Wiley Online Library

Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties by CF Carson, KA Hammer, TV Riley – Clinical microbiology reviews, 2006 – Am Soc Microbiol

A study of tea tree oil ototoxicity by SY Zhang, D Robertson – Audiology and Neurotology, 2000 – karger.com