Do Essential Oils Help Acne? Science Says Probably
Organic and all natural skin care products are extremely popular at the moment, but do they really work? Recent research indicates that many essential oils are excellent for the treatment of acne and common skin infections.
With antibiotic resistant bacteria on the rise, the medical field is looking for ways to reduce antibiotic prescriptions in the US. Since many forms of acne are currently treated with antibiotics, it is vital that other methods are investigated. Scientists looked how infection was treated in the past and discovered that some essential oils were believed to have significant medicinal properties.
In dermatology, research is focused on how essential oils can treat acne without the use of antibiotics. Though plenty of anecdotal evidence exists that essential oils are capable of healing acne, there is very little scientific research available on the topic until recently.
Tea Tree Oil
One study about acne published in the Medical Journal of Australia compared the utility of tea tree oil (5 %) to that of benzoyl peroxide (5%). Results showed that though the benzoyl peroxide treated acne faster, tea tree oil was just as effective over time and caused fewer side effects. Another study in 2012 reviewed the applications of tea tree oil in dermatology and found that it was effective in treating many skin conditions including various types of acne. The research also showed that wounds healed faster with the use of diluted tea tree oil.
Remarkably, tea tree oil was also studied in 2010 as a treatment for multi-drug resistant melanoma (MDR). The research team came to the conclusion that tea tree oil was capable of inducing cell death in MDR melanoma due to its lipophilic nature. Though more research is needed, physicians are hopeful that tea tree oil will represent a new avenue of treatment for melanoma patients.
Phytochemicals Fight Acne
Propionibacterium acnes is a widely recognized cause of acne and is treated with both antibiotics and hormones with demonstrated success. In an effort to curb antibiotic use however, many physicians are looking to phytochemicals for help. Phytochemicals are plant derived medicinal treatments and include essential oils. In 2010, ten different essential oils were tested against P.acnes with four oils being incredibly effective. Within five minutes of application (at .25% v/v), cinnamon, thyme, rose, and lavender oils had all completely killed the acne causing bacteria. More evidence is needed, but it appears that at least these plant based essential oils could provide a viable alternative to the traditional approach to treating acne.
Other Dermatology Uses
Acne is only one area in dermatology in which essential oils will be useful. Wound care and the treatment of infection will change significantly as more bacteria become resistant to current antibiotics and cleaning products. Other methods of infection control will need to be used in order to keep harmful bacteria out of wounds and hospitals. Essential oils like tea tree, lavender, thyme, and cinnamon oils show significant efficacy against many common microbes including those resistant to drugs like MRSA and the medical community is starting to embrace the idea of their use.
Before beginning any treatment with essential oils, talk to a dermatologist. Medications have been known to interact with some essentials oils causing mild to severe side effects. In order to prevent these kind of health emergencies it is important to speak first with a physician.