Using Tea Tree Oil during Pregnancy: Health Benefits & Precautions

Tea Tree Oil During Pregnancy – Benefits, Precautions, and Side Effects

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Pregnancy is a time of heightened awareness. It is the time, when a woman ponders over her every single decision, as it can have an impact on her baby some way or the other. During pregnancy, your body will undergo a lot of changes as a result of hormonal changes. These hormonal changes can lead to certain skin problems during pregnancy that might make you feel low. Yes, other than morning sickness, you will have skin problems to deal with too during pregnancy! We know you must be thinking about ‘pregnancy glow’, but sometimes, especially in the first trimester of your pregnancy, you may not have that bright-radiant skin that you had been hoping for. Instead, you may have pimples and acne that might make you feel low. But worry not, there are certain essential oils like tea tree oil that can help you combat skin problems!

The anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antibacterial properties of tea tree oil make it an effective remedy for acne and other skin complications that may arise during pregnancy. But is it completely safe to use tea tree oil in pregnancy? Find out!

What Is Tea Tree Oil?

Tea tree oil or Melaleuca alternifolia is an essential oil derived from the tea tree. Tea tree oil is known for antimicrobial and antiseptic properties which makes it a common choice for treating skin ailments like acne, warts, scabies, insect bites, fungal or bacterial infections. It also offers various benefits for hair and nails.

Is It Safe to Use Tea Tree Oil While Pregnant?

Yes, tea tree oil is safe for pregnancy but one must exercise utmost caution. If you want to use it, then you must read the instructions carefully on the bottle or use it as suggested by your doctor. Essential oils like tea tree oil are extremely concentrated, meaning that they are more potent when compared to products available in other forms from the same plant. Therefore, you need to know the correct usage of tea tree oil before you apply it on your skin.

Doctors usually recommend that tea tree oil should be used only in diluted form. You can apply it topically after consulting with your doctor and as suggested by her. Your doctor may also suggest some precautions, which you should follow carefully while using it. Ingestion of tea tree oil when pregnant can prove hazardous for the baby. So, never ingest it and also refrain from using it around the mouth.

Experts suggest that tea tree oil should be used with caution during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester, as if not used properly, it can trigger uterine contractions and negatively affect the development of the growing foetus. The risk, however, somewhat reduces during the second and third trimester as the baby develops.

Benefits of Using Tea Tree Oil During Pregnancy

Some benefits of using tea tree oil during pregnancy are mentioned below.

  • Using tea tree oil during pregnancy can help in balancing the production of oil and in unclogging the skin’s sebaceous glands, which can help cure acne and lower the chances of its occurrence.

  • Tea tree oil contains phytocides which may prove beneficial in the treatment of respiratory and nasal infections during pregnancy or otherwise. For the treatment of these infections, one can mix the Himalayan salt, 6-8 drops of tea tree oil and 10 drops of rosemary oil in a neti pot and then use it. However, the FDA does not recommend the use of neti pot as it can be used improperly by people. Hence, it must be avoided. You can consult with your doctor if you have respiratory infections or nasal infections.

  • Tea tree oil may prove effective in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria including E. coli, thus protecting pregnant women from falling prey to bladder infections and cold sores. Tea tree oil is not supposed to be ingested at all, but you can use it by adding it to your bathwater. You can add around 3 drops of tea tree oil in 125 ml of bathwater, which you can use to cleanse around the urethra.

  • The antiseptic properties of tea tree oil can help you fight fungal infections that cause brittle or discoloured nails during pregnancy.

  • The topical use of tea tree oil during pregnancy can also help avert the occurrence of stretch marks.

  • The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil can provide relief from the symptoms of haemorrhoids, like swelling, pain and discomfort, during pregnancy.

A pregnant woman with a bottle of oil in her hand

Ways in Which You Can Use Tea Tree Oil During Pregnancy

Mentioned below are some of the ways to use tea tree oil during pregnancy.

  • If you have nail fungus during pregnancy, you can apply a few drops of diluted tea tree oil on to the affected area twice daily.
  • You can prepare a toner by adding 1.5 ounces of apple cider vinegar, 1.5 ounces of clear water to 6 drops of tea tree oil to use it on your skin. It will give you glowing skin during pregnancy.
  • You can increase the effectiveness of your face wash by adding a few drops of tea tree oil to it which may help you keep pimples and acne at bay during pregnancy.
  • You can blend in tea tree oil in your lotion before using it to get smooth and soft skin during pregnancy.
  • If you have dandruff problem during pregnancy, consider using tea tree oil shampoo. Add a small measure of tea tree oil to your shampoo for best results.
  • You can also take aromatic baths by adding 4-5 drops of tea tree oil to your daily bathwater as it promotes healthy skin.

Harmful Effects of Using Tea Tree Oil During Pregnancy

Certain dangers of tea tree oil during pregnancy are mentioned below.

  • The use of tea tree oil during pregnancy can sometimes prompt an allergy, leading to inflammation and skin irritation.
  • Ingestion of tea tree oil during pregnancy can produce substantial toxicity which may lead to abdominal pain, confusion, diarrhoea, and even coma. Hence, it should never be ingested.
  • Improper use of tea tree oil during pregnancy can be detrimental for the health of the foetus.
  • Sometimes the topical tea tree oil can result in skin drynessrashes, and blisters.
  • The use of tea tree oil by a pregnant woman with a history of eczema can cause a bad reaction.
  • Tea tree oil can also set off a hormonal imbalance in some women.

Who Should Avoid Using Tea Tree Oil?

Pregnant women and people with the following conditions should avoid using tea tree oil at all costs:

Precautions to Take While Using Tea Tree Oil During Pregnancy

Here are some precautions of using tea tree oil while pregnant:

  • To avoid the incidence of an allergic reaction always do a skin patch test first. Apply a drop of tea tree oil on to a small area of your skin and observe for any possible adverse response.

  • Refrain from using tea tree oil in concentrated form. The safe way to use tea tree oil is by diluting it.

  • Check the expiry date when buying a bottle of tea tree oil. Using expired tea tree oil can be harmful as after expiration the oil starts to hoard cancer-causing substances.

  • Be careful while using tea tree oil through a diffuser in a closed room as it has a pronounced smell which can trigger nausea during pregnancy.

Tea Tree Oil Recipes That Are Safe for Pregnant Women

Here are the recipes you can make using tea tree oil in the first trimester, second trimester and third trimester:

1. Tea Tree Oil Face Cleanser

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of organic honey
  • 2 tablespoons of jojoba oil
  • 5-7 drops of tea tree essential oil

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the organic honey and jojoba oil until well combined.
  2. Add 5-7 drops of tea tree essential oil to the mixture and stir thoroughly.
  3. Apply a small amount of this natural face cleanser to your damp face and gently massage it in circular motions.
  4. Rinse your face with lukewarm water and pat it dry with a clean towel.
  5. Use this cleanser once or twice a day for clean and refreshed skin.

2. Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak for Swollen Feet

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of Epsom salt
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 5-7 drops of tea tree essential oil
  • Warm water

Method:

  1. Fill a basin or foot spa with warm water.
  2. Add the Epsom salt and baking soda to the water and stir until they dissolve.
  3. Add 5-7 drops of tea tree essential oil to the mixture and stir again.
  4. Soak your feet in the tea tree oil foot soak for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Gently scrub your feet with a soft brush or sponge, focusing on any swollen areas.
  6. Rinse your feet with clean water and pat them dry.
  7. Repeat this foot soak as needed to relieve swelling and discomfort, a common issue during pregnancy.

3. Tea Tree Oil Hair and Scalp Treatment

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 5-7 drops of tea tree essential oil

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, melt the coconut oil until it becomes a liquid (you can do this by gently heating it in the microwave for a few seconds).
  2. Allow the melted coconut oil to cool slightly but remain in a liquid state.
  3. Add 5-7 drops of tea tree essential oil to the melted coconut oil and mix thoroughly.
  4. Part your hair into sections and apply the mixture directly to your scalp.
  5. Massage the oil mixture into your scalp using gentle circular motions.
  6. Leave the treatment on for at least 30 minutes, or you can leave it on overnight for a more intensive treatment.
  7. Wash your hair with a mild shampoo and warm water to remove the oil.
  8. You may need to shampoo twice to ensure all the oil is washed out.
  9. Use this treatment once a week to help with any scalp issues or dryness that may occur during pregnancy.

Note: Remember to perform a patch test before using any essential oil-based recipes during pregnancy to ensure you do not have an adverse reaction.

When it comes to tea tree oil and pregnancy, the tea tree oil can be very beneficial for the skin and to treat the various skin problems like acne and pimples. However, one should use it with the utmost caution, especially during pregnancy. Diluting tea tree oil for use during pregnancy is desirable to reduce its potential risks. In case of uncertainty about the correct concentration, refer to a doctor before using tea tree oil who may prescribe a suitable dosage after examining your condition.

References/Resources:

1. Guidelines for Aromatherapists working with pregnant clients ; naha.org; https://naha.org/assets/uploads/PregnancyGuidelines-Oct11.pdf

2. Tea tree oil; mayoclinic.org; https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-tea-tree-oil/art-20364246

3. Factors that influence the safety of essential oils include; naha.org; https://naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/safety/

4. Tea Tree Oil; NIH; https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/tea-tree-oil

5. Sophie Fouyet, Elodie Olivier, Pascale Leproux, et.al; Evaluation of Placental Toxicity of Five Essential Oils and Their Potential Endocrine-Disrupting Effects; NCBI; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9323951/; July 2022.

6. Chemicals in lavender and tea tree oil appear to be hormone disruptors; endocrine.org; https://www.endocrine.org/news-and-advocacy/news-room/2018/chemicals-in-lavender-and-tea-tree-oil-appear-to-be-hormone-disruptors

7. Essential oils; medicinesinpregnancy.org; https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Medicine–pregnancy/Menthol/

8. Essential oils and pregnancy; mayoclinichealthsystem.org; https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/essential-oils-and-pregnancy

Also Read:

Almond Oil in Pregnancy
Olive Oil During Pregnancy
Castor Oil in Pregnancy for Labour Induction

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