Tea Tree Oil & Psoriasis

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Tea Tree Oil & Psoriasis
Tea Tree Oil & Psoriasis (Image: ClickArt by Broderbund)

Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of an Australian plant. Originally, the leaves were used as a substitute for tea, so that's how the tree got its name. The aborigines saw the benefits of tea tree leaves and used them for a number of skin irritations. Today, tea tree oil is found in creams, lotions and shampoos that all tout its antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Psoriasis patients have found some relief with tea tree oil in its pure form, not as an ingredient in another product.

Identification

Psoriasis is a life long skin disorder that can be debilitating for the sufferer. The most common type of psoriasis is called plague. It causes raised, red patches or lesions that are covered with dead skin cells. These dead skin cells are called scales. The lesions can occur on any part of the body causing discomfort.

Types

Psoriasis exists as five types. Plague, the most common, is found in 80% of sufferers. It occurs on elbows, knees, the lower back, and on the scalp. Guttate looks like small, red spots. The trunk area and limbs are the most common areas of outbreak. Guttate comes on suddenly when infection or stress are present. Inverse occurs on the armpits, groin area, under the breasts and any place where there are folds of skin. Rubbing and sweating causes the red lesions. Pustular, usually in adults, is white skin blisters surrounded by red skin. Erythrodermic is an inflammatory condition that covers most of the body surface.

Considerations

Tea tree oil, native to Australia, was first used by the aborigines of Australia who used the leaves of the tea tree for cuts, burns, and other skin irritations. They would crush the leaves and put them directly on the infected area. The oil from the leaves contains terpenoids, which are antiseptic and anti-fungal.

Effects

Today, tea tree oil is found in creams, lotions, shampoos and soaps. It is also available as an essential oil. Though tea tree products boast their ability to help psoriasis, the best results, for some patients, come from the pure essential oil, that is massaged into the skin.

Theories/Speculation

Presently, most doctors prescribe cortisone products for the treatment of psoriasis. Some patients have found that tea tree oil works best on scalp psoriasis. The National Psoriasis Foundation claims that little is known about the benefits of tea tree oil, and they recommend that if tea tree oil irritates the skin, discontinue its use.

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