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Shirley Price
Shirley Price

Treating Ringworm Effectively with Tea Tree Oil: Usage, Safety, and More


Ringworm, despite its name, is not caused by a worm but rather a fungal infection. The medical term is tinea corporis. Characteristic ring-shaped rashes appear on the skin and can be irritating. Tea tree oil is a popular natural antifungal treatment that may help clear up mild ringworm when used properly.


What Causes Ringworm?

Ringworm arises when fungus on the top layer of dead skin cells begins growing out of control. Fungi like Trichophyton rubrum and Microsporum canis are often the culprits behind ringworm. It spreads by direct skin contact or from contact with contaminated objects like towels, clothing, or surfaces. Pets can also transmit ringworm fungus to humans through touch.


Risk factors for contracting ringworm include:

  • Weakened immune system

  • Hot, humid environments

  • Sweating a lot or damp clothing

  • Shared showers, sports equipment, clothing etc.

  • Close contact with others who have ringworm

  • Using public swimming pools


Ringworm typically causes round, red, itchy patches on the skin. As it spreads outward, the center often clears up, creating the classic ring-shaped rash. Scalp ringworm manifests as bald patches of hair loss. Seeking prompt treatment helps prevent spreading.


How Tea Tree Oil Combats Ringworm


Tea tree oil, distilled from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, contains beneficial compounds like terpinen-4-ol that provide antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Here’s how it tackles ringworm:

  • Potent antifungal activity - Terpinen-4-ol disrupts fungus cell membranes and inhibits growth. This kills ringworm fungus like T. rubrum.

  • Anti-inflammatory action - The oil reduces redness, swelling, and itchiness associated with rashes. This helps symptoms.

  • Wound healing acceleration - Tea tree oil stimulates faster healing of infected skin and rashes.

  • Skin penetration - Terpenes help carry the active ingredients deep into skin layers where ringworm resides.

  • Immune stimulation - Tea tree may enhance the immune response against stubborn fungal infections.


Studies show that tea tree oil performs significantly better than placebo at clearing tinea corporis lesions faster when applied twice daily for 4 weeks.


How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Ringworm


Always dilute tea tree oil first before applying to skin. Follow these tips:

  • Mix 4-8 drops of tea tree oil with 1 teaspoon carrier oil like coconut or olive oil. Adjust amounts as needed.

  • Using a cotton ball, gently dab the diluted oil on rashes and infected areas twice daily after cleaning.

  • For scalp ringworm, add 8-10 drops of tea tree oil to unscented shampoo and lather onto affected areas of the scalp. Rinse thoroughly.

  • Continue treatment for 2-4 weeks until rash is fully resolved. Do not stop prematurely.

  • Maintain good hygiene and discard old towels, clothes, hairbrushes etc. to prevent reinfection and spread.

  • Can also apply a small amount of diluted oil to a bandage and place over rashes for more prolonged contact. Change bandages daily.


Safety Tips When Using Tea Tree Oil


While generally safe when used topically in small concentrations, be aware of the following with tea tree oil:

  • Always do a patch test first to check for allergic reactions or sensitivity.

  • Never ingest tea tree oil. It can be toxic if swallowed.

  • Keep out of eyes, ears, and nose as irritation can occur if made contact.

  • Use caution if you have very sensitive skin. Discontinue if strong irritation develops.

  • Not suitable for use on babies or small children due to risk of sensitivity.

  • Avoid applying to skin immediately after shaving to prevent stinging.

  • Don’t use undiluted oil directly on skin as chemical burns can result.


Tea tree oil stands as an accessible, affordable natural remedy to help clear up mild to moderate ringworm cases when used diligently. Combine with careful hygiene to stop the spread of the fungal infection. Seek medical treatment if rashes worsen or don't improve within a few weeks.


References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/acm.2006.12.467

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6128224/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/10915818.2010.518205

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S222116911730232X

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10812974/

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2016/7654290/https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/5/4/88

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/030006059802600106

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