17 Serious Side Effects Of Tea Tree Oil You Should Check

Also known world over as “Melaleuca Oil” Tea tree oil has a camphor-like smell and can be found in pale yellow or colourless composition. Even though toxic if ingested, the oil is a favourite to be used in Skin creams and lotions all thanks to its ability to treat various dermatological diseases. In spite of enjoying such a high level of popularity due to the skin benefits, Tea Tree oil has its share of side effects which not many people are still aware of. Let us delve deep and find out what these side effects are and how they can impact a person.

17 Side Effects Of Tea Tree Oil

1. Change in taste

A study was conducted in the UAE whereon two types of mouthwash were tested. While one contained Tea tree oil, the other one had Cetylpyridinium Chloride as an active ingredient. The latter mouthwash was proven to have a better impact on Gingivitis whereas the former led to a change in taste perception. Also, Tea Tree oil like some other essential oils has a bitter taste which often leads to choking in small kids.

2. Hormonal effects

It has been found that ingesting Tea tree oil in a secondary form can cause breast enlargement in young boys. The New England Journal of Medicine has testified that this condition also known as Gynecomastia was resolved once the consumption of Tea tree oil was discontinued. Tea Tree oil is an endocrine disrupter and hence the impact seen on young boys. In fact, because of these symptoms, the European Union is in two minds about banning the use of Tea tree oil completely, but that may take time to implement it.

3. Harm to ears

Tea tree oil is frequently used to treat ear infections, but if you apply it without dilution, it might cause swelling and discomfort in the ear. To avoid that situation it is always advised to use it in combination with any other oil like Olive and Almond. Mix Tea tree oil with one-fourth cup of any of these oils and use a dropper to apply to your ear. Tilt your head and keep it like that till the oil goes completely inside to avoid this side effect.

4. Skin Irritation

You may use Tea tree oil to treat skin ailments, but on certain occasions, they are known to make skin red and cause irritation. Especially for people with sensitive skin using Tea Tree oil may not be such a good idea after all. People who are suffering from Eczema or have faced the same in the past may also need to use the oil with discretion. On the flip side, you can opt for gentler essential oils like Lavender, Rosemary and Manuka. Also diluting the oil with some other can reduce the damage caused.

5. Allergies

Yes, it is possible for a person to be allergic to Tea tree oil. Such reactions may range from inflammation to rashes of the most severe kind. In case you are applying the oil on the broken or dry skin, the allergic reaction may be seen soon enough. Also if you are allergic to items such as Guava, Eucalyptus, and cloves then your probability of being allergic to Tea Tree oil increases too. Apart from skin allergies, you can also face issues like cramps, congestion, flushing, swelling, and light-headedness.

6. Scalp issues

Some people have testified that Tea tree oil is a remedy for Dandruff woes however there is no proof to substantiate this claim. Instead, there are others who have confirmed that its prolonged usage led to scalp issues like dryness and itching. Also, the prolonged use of the same can lead to severe hair fall and damage of the scalp skin leading to rashes.

7. Diarrhoea

A severe reaction to the use of Tea tree oil can be diarrhoea of the worst forms. However, it only happens in very few cases and that too for people who may have taken a dose of the oil in its raw form or without dilution.

8. Side effects of ingesting

At times people are not aware, and they consume the oil without any knowledge of the side effects. If by chance the oil is swallowed directly the person can face different side effects like drowsiness, vomiting, upset stomach, nausea, weakness, and hallucination, coma, confusion and blood cell abnormalities as well. You can also have an attack of Ataxia which may affect muscle coordination and your ability to move around freely.

9. Burning in infants

Applying Tea tree oil to an infant’s skin can cause a burning sensation which in turns into redness and rashes of the skin. It is easy to know if the child has an allergic reaction to Tea tree oil. Just apply a bit of it on the infected area and if you see burning or the baby cries immediately wash it off. If the doctor advised for the use of the same, do let him know so that he can suggest a better option.

10. Depression

So far solid results proving the same have not been noticed in humans as such, but few cases in cats and dogs have been reported. This happened when the oil was given to the animals in very high doses. Apart from that drowsiness and fatigue are common side effects of Tea Tree oil and that can also further the cause of depression.

11. Nasal Polyps

Often people recommend Tea tree oil to get Nasal Polyps but the truth is that in certain cases the oil has been known to aggravate the situation further. The use of oil can even cause your nose to run and make it burn or sting. The polyp before getting treated may see a swelling before it finally starts to shrink and show a visible reduction in size.

12. Mouth inflammation

We have mentioned before that it is not wise to consume Tea tree oil directly in the mouth. Even if you are using it in some form to get plaque treatment in the mouth, then it may not be as effective as required. On the other hand, it might cause inflammation of the mouth which may be otherwise difficult to treat and be severe also.

13. Muscle issues

In dogs and cats the usage of Tea tree oil caused muscle tremors, and this has been testified by some famous toxicologists. Though after strict treatment, the same situation was confirmed, there is no foolproof solution in case if a human faces the same problem. If you have an incidence of muscle problems in the past, then it is better to be a little careful with the usage.

14. Pregnancy or breastfeeding

Studies show that if Tea tree oil is used during pregnancy, it may cause contractions of the uterus getting affected which can put your and the baby’s health at risk. It can also increase the probability of a miscarriage during delivery happening. There is no particular information that breast milk is affected by the usage of Tea tree oil. Normally it is tolerated well until and unless you have ingested it orally. Its safety for nursing mothers and infants has not been negated until now hence can be considered.

15. Other drug interactions

Often Tea tree oil may interact with other kinds of drugs like antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, antiviral agents and hormonal agents. This often can interact with the nervous system and even lower the immunity of your body on the whole. It is always preferable to consult your doctor before taking the treatment, especially if you are suffering from any chronic ailment since a very long time.

16. Herbs and dietary supplements impact

If you are taking any anti-acne herbs and supplements or for cancer, skin and parasite infections you might have to be a little more careful with the consumption of Tea Tree oil as well. Not being careful can damage your nervous system and be the cause of bigger trouble later on.

17. Effects on pets

It has been noticed that Tea tree oil is used without dilution can prove to be extremely dangerous for pets of the house. Symptoms ranging from muscle tremors to weakness and lack of coordination can be seen with the use of the oil. Mostly the signs of an impact come into notice only after 2-8 hours have passed hence delaying the chances of getting quick relief. In a situation such as this it is advised that pets should only be given highly diluted doses of Tea tree oil and the sooner the symptoms noticed the vet should be consulted immediately.


Tea tree oil is quite beneficial for certain common ailments, but it does not come without its share of side effects. Though time and again it has been emphasised that the oil should not be taken orally, the undiluted version of the same can also cause serious side effects which are difficult to combat. In such a situation it becomes necessary to always consult a doctor before taking a dose of this miracle oil. Also, if you notice any visible changes as mentioned above it would be better to stop the consumption of Tea tree oil until you do not receive doctor’s suggestions on an alternative.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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