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tea tree oil
By Meghan O'Neal 07/28/2020

Let’s cut to the chase here: you should not use tea tree oil on a healing piercing.

Confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Essential oils allow people to choose more natural solutions to certain minor problems, like dry skin, heartburn, or other everyday stress. They can provide fantastic benefits, and many people swear by the improvements that they’ve felt by using them.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that essential oils aren’t foolproof, and they should be used carefully. If used incorrectly, they could present uncomfortable side effects.

The same goes for tea tree oil. Although it’s commonly touted as an excellent product for piercing aftercare, even by medical resources like Healthline, a plethora of piercers agree that tea tree oil should not be used on healing piercings.

Here’s why.

What is tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that comes from the leaves of the tea tree—or the Melaleuca alternifolia—a tree native to Australia.

As an essential oil—a concentrated version of the tea tree leaf—it’s often used on the skin as an anti-inflammatory, an antiseptic, a natural deodorant, an insect repellent, and more. It’s known to help make the skin glow and look and feel healthy. Overall, tea tree oil is pretty handy to have around.

closeup of leaves

Essential oils, like tea tree oil, are simply concentrated versions of the plants they’re made from.

Because tea tree oil is an anti-inflammatory and has antibacterial properties, it would seem as though tea tree oil would be perfect for piercing aftercare. After all, the majority of aftercare is dedicated to minimizing uncomfortable symptoms, like swelling, and keeping the piercing free from bacteria. However, the way tea tree oil works with your skin can produce side effects that can actually hinder healing instead of helping it.

Why is tea tree oil bad for healing piercings?

A major reason why tea tree oil has its antiseptic properties is that it draws moisture from the area. In a healing piercing, where the skin is delicate, this can cause discomfort, peeling skin, rashes, and other complications. It can even encourage scarring. 

In any healing piercing, most piercers will advise you to only use a piercing aftercare saline solution on your piercing and stay away from everything else as much as possible, including soap. This is because there are tons of chemicals found in these products that can irritate your piercing. Tea tree oil, although natural, also has properties that will have the same effect.

What should I use instead of tea tree oil on my healing piercings?

As mentioned previously, piercing aftercare saline solution is the only thing that you should be using on your healing piercing. 

Saline solution is good for healing piercings because it only uses two ingredients that are safe for your delicate, skin: salt and water. The best thing that you can do for your healing piercing is to make sure that this is the only solution you use for your aftercare.

salt in a spoon

The only thing you need for your healing piercing is a proper mixture of sea salt and purified water.

If you’re only using piercing aftercare saline solution on your new piercing, and you still see some issues emerge, then you should talk to your piercer. They’ll be able to better diagnose the issue, and they’ll be able to direct you toward a safe solution (often something like reducing or increasing daily cleanses or changing your jewelry). You should never try to self-diagnose and fix the problem on your own.

When can I use tea tree oil on my piercings?

In a healed piercing, tea tree oil may offer some benefits. Some piercers have recommended it to minimize the appearance of hypertrophic scarring or pustules. 

However, tea tree oil should only be used as directed. Before you go out and buy some to use on your healed piercing, you should talk to your piercer. They’ll be able to let you know whether tea tree oil is a good solution, and they’ll direct you on the proper dilution and how often you should apply it. Essential oils are concentrated versions of their respective plants, so they can be quite strong. Because of this, it’s easy to use too much and irritate the area.

Keep in mind that many of the issues that might benefit from tea tree oil usually go away on their own. Often, it’s better to simply let your body do its thing rather than using tea tree oil. The most important thing you can do is to seek counsel from your piercer and listen to their guidance.

While tea tree oil has numerous benefits, overall, it’s probably best to keep it away from your piercing. If you have some at home, and you’re tempted to use it to treat an issue in a healed piercing, make sure that you discuss it with your piercer first. Most likely, you should save your tea tree oil for chapped hands and glowing skin rather than as a treatment for piercing complications.

Shop while you heal

Ready to be done with your aftercare? Unfortunately, the best thing that you can do for your piercing is to remain vigilant and patient. While you wait for your piercing to heal, it helps to dream of the new jewelry you’ll be able to wear when your healing is complete. Here are some of our favorites.

Meghan O'Neal

One Reply to “Can I Use Tea Tree Oil on My Piercing? The Surprising Facts about Tea Tree Oil And Piercings”

Connie Johnson, 28 Jul 2020

Tea tree oil is the ONLY treatment I have found that works on piercing bumps. Maybe because it removes moisture, not sure, but I find most piercers to be less than helpful with solutions for these annoying, unsightly bumps.

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