Tea Tree Oil For Piercings – How To Use And Possible Risks

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Priya Gill, MBBCH, MRCP
Written by Annie Jangam

Many piercing experts recommend using tea tree oil for piercings as it is said to work wonders. The antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and healing characteristics of tea tree oil make it a great aftercare therapy for piercings. It works by relieving inflammation and reducing the risk of infection. So, if you have recently gotten a piercing, this article is for you. Read on to learn why you should use tea tree oil for piercings, how to use it, and possible adverse effects.

How Can Tea Tree Oil Help In Healing Piercing?

1. May Prevent Infections

Piercings are prone to infections, and tea tree oil can help prevent them. It contains terpinen-4-ol and alpha-terpineol, responsible for its antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiprotozoal properties. Tea tree oil can protect the wound from infections caused by microbes and fungi like Propionibacterium acnes, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Candida albicans, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, and Trichophyton rubrum (1), (2).

2. May Reduce Inflammation

Tea tree oil can soothe inflamed skin by reducing redness and swelling around the piercing. A mice study found that terpinen-4-ol in tea tree oil reduced swelling associated with contact hypersensitivity (an allergic condition that causes swelling, redness, and irritation) (1). Thus, topical tea tree oil may also reduce the swelling, itching, and discomfort associated with piercings and speed up healing.

3. May Promote Wound Healing

Tea tree oil can speed up wound healing by reducing bacterial activity. A study evaluated the wound healing potential of tea tree oil in 10 participants and reported that it reduced healing time in nine of them (3).

You can use tea tree oil on body piercings to ensure effective and fast healing. However, be careful before using it on piercings on sensitive areas like around the eyes and inside the mouth. The next section discusses how you may use tea tree oil safely on the piercings.

How To Use Tea Tree Oil On Your Piercing

External Piercing

Spot treatment works best for external piercing on the nose, eyebrows, ears, lips, and navel. You must dilute the TTO before applying it to your skin.

  1. To dilute tea tree oil, mix 2-3 drops of the oil with a tablespoon of any carrier oil like olive, almond, jojoba, or coconut oils.
  2. Apply the oil mix to the pierced area with a cotton swab or Q-tip.
  3. Repeat several times a day until the skin heals.

Internal Piercing

Rinses and soaks are the way to clean piercings on sensitive areas like the tongue and genitals.

For tongue piercings

  1. Mix 10-15 drops of TTO and warm salt water.
  2. Swish or gargle it for 30 seconds and spit it out. Do not swallow this mixture.
  3. Gargle lukewarm water.

For genital piercings

  1. Soak a clean cotton towel in two drops of TTO and saline solution.
  2. Squeeze the excess water and gently dab the area with the wipe.
  3. Wash the area with lukewarm water and pat dry.

Do a patch test before using tea tree oil to avoid allergic reactions. Moreover, you have to be cautious when using it for oral piercings. Keep reading to learn the adverse effects of using tea tree oil.

Side Effects Of Using Tea Tree Oil For Piercings

  • May Cause Poisoning: Ingesting tea tree oil may cause poisoning and lead to drowsiness and confusion. Animal studies found that lower doses of TTO caused lethargy and loss of muscle coordination. Higher doses of TTO could be lethal. However, no human deaths have been reported due to TTO ingestion (1).
  • May Cause Allergic Reactions: TTO is considered safe for external use unless you are allergic to it. Essential oils are potential allergens and may cause redness, rashes, swelling, itching, and hives.

Avoid using tea tree oil if you are pregnant or lactating, as the safety and effects of using tea tree oil during pregnancy are unknown.

Remember that tea tree oil for piercings is a complementary remedy and cannot replace medical treatments. Hence, always follow the doctor’s advice for proper wound care. Also, consult your doctor if you notice swelling, foul odor, pus, or blood on the piercing site.

How Long Does It Take Tea Tree Oil To Heal Piercing?

It can take up to two weeks for tea tree oil to heal the piercing. The downtime also depends on the type and location of piercings. It may take longer to heal piercings on sensitive areas like the genitals, nipples, and around the eyes.

Tea tree oil has been used for decades to treat bruises, bug bites, and skin irritations. In addition, it is commonly used as part of the aftercare for piercings on the face and body. Follow the steps outlined above to use tea tree oil safely on piercings. Keep in mind that while tea tree oil can help with wound healing and infection prevention, it is not a substitute for medical care. To avoid infections and other side effects, visit a doctor and do a patch test before using tea tree oil on piercing wounds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is tea tree oil good for piercing bumps?

Yes. Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties that make it ideal for treating piercing bumps and preventing further infection (4).

Can tea tree oil make keloid worse?

No. There is currently no evidence that indicates that tea tree oil can make keloids worse. However, ensure that you conduct a patch test to check for adverse effects.

How do you help piercings heal faster?

You can follow simple aftercare tips such as cleaning your piercing carefully every day and resting to promote faster healing.

Key Takeaways

  • Tea tree oil has terpinen-4-ol and alpha-terpineol, which have antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It helps in preventing infections after piercing.
  • This oil reduces inflammation and promotes wound healing.
  • For external piercing, it can be used with coconut oil and applied directly.
  • It generally takes 2 weeks to heal with tea tree oil.

References:

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  1. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties
    https://journals.asm.org/doi/10.1128/CMR.19.1.50-62.2006?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed
  2. Herbs and Spices in Cancer Prevention and Treatment.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92761/
  3. The Effect of Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on Wound Healing Using a Dressing Model
    https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/acm.2012.0787
  4. Pharmacological attributes and nutritional benefits of tea tree oil
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.652.3826&rep=rep1&type=pdf
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Dr. Priya Gill

(MBBCH, MRCP)
Dr. Priya Gill is a consultant dermatologist in Klang, Malaysia. She specializes in the management of all medical and surgical... more

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