Melaleuca Oil. The exotic name called to me, beckoned to me from beyond the glowing laptop screen and seemed to whisper, “I am the answer.”
I was partaking in my favorite pastime: scrolling through hundreds, maybe thousands of comments on an article from earthclinic.com, “Natural Remedies for Perioral Dermatitis.” Over the past two years, I’d tried almost everything to get rid of my Perioral and Periorbital Dermatitis (a clinical way to say “The skin around your eyes and mouth is fucked!”) including the commented suggestions of coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and castor oil...but Melaleuca Oil? I’d never heard of that before!
Turns out commenter Holly6124 from Cleveland, OH, was just trying to sound super-fancy with her Melaleuca shout-out. Slow your roll, Holly–a quick Google search revealed that Melaleuca is just the scientific term for tea tree oil.
Now that, I’d heard of. I even had some in my bathroom cabinet. Further Googling pointed out that tea tree oil could be an effective treatment for dermatitis if the irritation was fungal-based. While I didn’t know if mine was, I figured testing the tea tree oil remedy couldn’t hurt.
I knew from my teenage experimentation with tea tree oil as an acne cure that it’s pretty potent and needs to be distilled in water or oil before use, so I cleaned out a 4-ounce spray bottle, plopped two drops of tea tree oil inside, and filled the rest with water. Shake, shake, spray, spray, spray, let sit.
For two weeks, tea tree oil was the only product I let touch my skin (you can read more about my no-product rule here). I sprayed it all over my face three times a day: morning, afternoon, and night. After a few days, my skin felt even drier and itchier–but for some reason, I felt compelled to stick with it. (Skin-tuition? Eh? Eh??) After five days, my skin was noticeably clearer; after a week, my dermatitis was almost all gone.
Tea tree isn’t just for dermatitis sufferers, though–it’s an age-old remedy for garden variety acne, rosacea, and even psoriasis. Plus, just smelling the oil has been said to help with depression. So, basically, if you’re a human with skin and feelings, tea tree oil is probably a good product to incorporate into your routine.
Even though I started incorporating my other products back into my daily skincare routine, I didn’t discontinue my use of tea tree oil. My homemade spray bottle potion has replaced my usual toner; it’s now the first thing I reach for every day after cleansing. My dermatitis hasn’t flared up in over two months–it’s the magic of Melaleuca.