If you’re familiar with holistic health care, chances are you’ve learned about essential oils. Essential oils are popular options for supporting your all-around well-being and are most commonly used in aromatherapy.
That being said, there are several other uses for essential oils that you might not know about. For example, tea tree oil is believed to be useful for supporting the health and healing of new piercings. But when it comes to your skin and the healing of wounds, you want to be certain that all the products you use are safe.
Here at WOW Skin Science, we’re experts in all things natural and all things skin care. Let’s answer once and for all whether tea tree oil can be used in piercing aftercare and how you can use tea tree oil both safely and effectively.
Table of contents:
- What Is Tea Tree Oil?
- Why Is Piercing Aftercare Important?
- How Effective Is Tea Tree Oil for Piercing Aftercare?
- Essential Oil Safety: External vs. Oral Piercings
- How Should You Use Tea Tree Oil?
- Preparing the Essential Oil
- Testing Your Skin
- Applying Your Solution
- What To Do if You Experience Irritation?
- How Long Can You Use Tea Tree Oil?
- What Are Additional Uses for Tea Tree Oil?
What Is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil is derived from Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to Australia. The oil is made from steam distillation of the plant’s leaves – basically, extracting the plant’s essence. The plant and its oil date back centuries as a popular concoction in traditional medicine for its cleansing properties.
Today, tea tree oil offers a range of uses, from aromatherapy to piercing aftercare. But how effective is tea tree oil for supplementing the healing of piercings? Let’s explore more below.
A Brief History of Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an effective holistic natural cleanser that dates back hundreds of years. However, it wasn’t until the 1920s that tea tree oil gained popularity and became a common product available in stores.
Once tea tree oil gained popularity, it became an essential ingredient for many. Australian legends even hint at oil being a highly sought-after commodity during World War II, but few records are available to confirm this claim.
Why Is Piercing Aftercare Important?
Piercing aftercare is absolutely essential to helping your piercing heal quickly and without complications or infection. Although cute and stylish, piercings are essentially open wounds until they heal. Like any wound, a piercing needs a little extra care in order to heal properly.
Your aftercare routine can help support the healing process. It also helps maximize comfort while your body heals.
It’s common to experience slight discomfort and irritation after getting a new piercing. Upholding a regular aftercare regimen can help soothe these feelings of discomfort and prevent irritation from worsening.
Neglecting to uphold your aftercare routine can result in discomfort, itchiness, irritation, and even infection. It’s crucial to follow aftercare instructions given by your piercer or a medical professional. If you do experience pain or infection, consult a medical professional.
A few helpful aftercare tips are as follows:
- Minimize how often you touch your piercing. Your pierced area will be extra prone to bacteria and irritation at this time, so try to avoid touching your piercing whenever possible. If you need to touch your piercing when cleaning it or practicing your aftercare routine, do so with freshly washed hands.
- Avoid removing your piercing until fully healed. Speak with your piercer to determine when you can expect to remove and switch your jewelry.
- Avoid taking baths or swimming when possible. Standing water like that in a bath or a pool can contain lots of bacteria that might infect your piercing. Since it’s still important to keep the rest of your body clean while your piercing heals, try showering instead.
- Wear light clothing that doesn’t rub. Tight clothing can irritate body piercings and delay the healing process. To keep infection away, make sure to change your clothes when dirty and change any bedding regularly.
How Effective Is Tea Tree Oil for Piercing Aftercare?
When you get a new piercing, your piercing technician will provide you with instructions for aftercare and healing. Always follow your piercer’s aftercare instructions – however, tea tree oil is an incredibly effective tool to supplement your piercing aftercare routine and help support the healing process.
Tea tree oil contains helpful properties that help your piercing site combat unwanted bacterial growth and irritation. Because of this, tea tree oil is a great way to help your skin stay clean and healthy during the healing process.
Tea tree oil can also help support the skin’s defense against certain funguses that can cause fungal infection, help reduce the appearance of scarring on the skin, help reduce the appearance of any resulting bumps or keloids, help minimize the appearance of redness, and ease feelings of irritation.
Plus, as a holistic approach, tea tree oil is generally considered safe for all skin types when used correctly. Basically, the ingredient does it all.
Essential Oil Safety: External vs. Oral Piercings
Before we explore how to use tea tree oil for piercings, it’s important to go over some essential oil safety. While tea tree oil is generally safe for external use, it should never be used internally or orally.
For any piercings around the mouth, such as lip and tongue piercings or any other internal piercings, do not use tea tree oil. Instead, these piercings can be cleaned with sea salt rinses. A sea salt rinse can help soften and remove accumulated debris from the wound and surrounding area and won’t irritate your sensitive internal skin.
For external piercings, tea tree oil is generally safe and effective. Your piercer may still suggest a sea salt soak for an external piercing, in which case you can add a few drops of tea tree oil to the soak before applying it to your piercing site.
How Should You Use Tea Tree Oil?
If you’re interested in using tea tree oil to help support the healing process for your external piercings, here’s what you need to know.
Preparing the Essential Oil
Before you can apply tea tree oil to your skin, you might have to prepare the essential oil solution. Pure essential oils are way too potent for your skin to handle and can cause redness, irritation, and other issues if they’re applied directly to your skin. To fix this, you’ll need to dilute the oil.
Some tea tree oil solutions are already diluted and can be safely applied directly to your skin. Other oils will require dilution before using them. You can find out if an essential oil solution has already been diluted by reading the label.
If you need to dilute your tea tree oil, you can use carrier oil or water. Carrier oils are natural oils that are combined with essential oils to make them safe for topical application. Popular examples include olive oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil.
To help prevent redness, irritation, or following stinging, dilute the essential oil by adding a few drops of tea tree oil to an ounce of water. You can also mix an equal amount of tea tree oil and carrier oil. Either way, your skin will thank you for it.
Testing Your Skin
Once you’ve diluted your oil and prepared your skin-safe solution, conduct a patch test to make sure that your skin won’t react. To do this, apply a small amount of the solution to your inner arm or leg.
Wait for one to two days and closely observe this area of skin to see how it reacts. If there are no signs of irritation or redness, the solution should be safe to use in other areas of your body.
If you do experience irritation from your patch test, do not use the essential oil on your pierced area. Instead, continue with the piercing aftercare routine recommended by your piercer. If the irritation does not go away, consult your general care physician.
Applying Your Solution
Now that you’ve diluted your solution and conducted a patch test, it’s time to apply. There are two different methods you can use to apply tea tree oil to your piercing – a soak or a spot treatment.
Topical spot treatments are helpful if you’re on the go or can’t fully submerge the pierced area. To do a spot treatment, take your diluted tea tree oil and apply a small amount onto a cloth, paper towel, or cotton pad.
Dab — do not wipe — the substance to your skin on and around your piercing. Wiping can irritate the skin and keep your wound from healing properly. Remember to dab gently, as the area is likely sensitive.
To use the soak treatment method, fill a container with your diluted tea tree oil solution. Place your piercing in the oil for around a minute. Once finished, rinse off the solution with purified water and pat the area dry.
What To Do if You Experience Irritation?
It’s possible to experience irritation even after conducting a patch test, especially if you have extra-sensitive skin. If you do experience irritation that doesn’t go away in 48 hours, consult your general care physician.
How Long Can You Use Tea Tree Oil?
You can use tea tree oil on your piercings during the initial healing process or until they’re fully healed.
Piercings vary in how long they can take to heal. For instance, an ear or nose piercing may only take six to eight weeks to heal, while a naval piercing can take up to a year. Be sure to talk to your piercer about when your piercing is expected to heal.
What Are Additional Uses for Tea Tree Oil?
As we hinted at earlier, piercing aftercare is not the only use for tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is an extremely versatile essential oil that can be successfully employed for many different purposes. It can be a helpful way to soothe congestion or dry scalp, promote hair growth, and much more.
Tea tree oil can also be used in a diffuser for aromatherapy, in the bath, or as a massage oil when diluted. So even after your piercing is healed, you can continue to enjoy your tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil is a powerful essential oil with many properties that make it an excellent way to supplement your piercing aftercare routine. While it’s important to follow your piercer’s aftercare instructions, tea tree oil can be used as an effective way to supplement this routine.
If you’ve recently gotten a piercing or plan on getting one, we highly encourage you to keep a bottle of tea tree essential oil on hand.
A little bit of tea tree oil can go a long way with your piercing’s healing process. For additional assurance, check in with your piercer before implementing this ingredient in your aftercare routine.
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