Is It Safe to Use Tea Tree Oil During Pregnancy?

Learn if this essential oil is safe or should be avoided.

Pregnancy is a time of glowing skin and luscious locks. It is also a time of hormonal acne, oily skin, and hair loss.

For moms-to-be who fall into the former category—relish it! For those in the latter, don’t fear, there are helpful, natural ingredients that can be used safely during pregnancy.

Acne can be an especially debilitating condition that effects one’s self-esteem. It is important to remind yourself that pregnancy is just temporary, and that your skin will be back to normal once again. Remember, too, that it is all in the name of your beautiful babe; pregnancy is the beginning of the selflessness of motherhood.

Pregnancy acne can be difficult to treat because many products, such as prescription retinoids, are considered unsafe. Tea tree oil, though, can be safe and effective in treating hormonal acne during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

It can also be used topically to treat a number of other conditions such as fungal nail infection, athlete’s foot, and lice. (LIVESTRONG)

What is Tea Tree Oil?

Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is a powerhouse essential oil. It has anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-septic properties. When used on the skin, it balances oil production, unblocks sebaceous glands, which can lead to blackheads and whiteheads, destroys bacteria, and removes damaged skin cells. (Keeva Organics)

Tea tree oil is a natural alternative for treating acne. Its actions are similar to those of the popular acne-treating ingredient benzoyl peroxide, found in many over-the-counter products such as Neutrogena and Clean-and-Clear, but without the synthetic, chemical components. According to, tea tree oil in gel form is as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide. While it may not work as rapidly, it is less irritating. (WebMD)

My Personal Experience with Tea Tree Oil

During my pregnancy, I used tea tree oil successfully to treat and prevent acne. When I first read about its benefits, I dove right in and began applying the oil directly to my skin. I ended up breaking out in a horrible rash of small pimples after spending time in the sun, even when wearing a sunscreen.

Because tea tree oil may increase skin’s photosensitivity, it is suggested that you apply the oil at bedtime. Additionally, all essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier substance. For instance, a skin-friendly oil such as jojoba, aloe vera, witch hazel, or distilled water.

It is important to remember that essential oils are very concentrated. “One drop of peppermint essential oil is equivalent to 26-28 cups of peppermint tea. This isn’t to say essential oils should not be used, but they should be used carefully, with proper education and in safe amounts.” (Wellness Mama)

The molecules of essential oils are small so it’s possible that they may cross the placenta, which is why diluting them is very important. If you don’t want to apply the oil, aromatherapy is a safe, great way to relax.

Add a couple drops of oil to a vaporizer or diffuser, put up your feet, and breathe in deeply. Diffused tea tree oil can help clear your home’s air as well as provide immunity support.

Risks and Possible Reactions

While the use of tea tree oil during pregnancy is considered safe, it is not recommended that you use the oil during labor. This conclusion is “based on a laboratory study in which scientists observed a decrease in the force of spontaneous contractions in samples of rat uterus exposed to tea tree oil.

These findings ‘suggest caution in the use of these essential oils during childbirth, as cessation of contractions could put the baby, and mother, at risk.’” (LIVESTRONG)

Tea tree oil should never be ingested, especially during pregnancy, because it can be toxic to both mother and baby if taken orally.

The most common side effects of using tea tree oil topically are inflammation of the skin, contact eczema and dermatitis, dryness, itching, burning, and redness. If you experience any irritation, stop use immediately. (LIVESTRONG)

DIY Toner Recipe

If you are going to be au naturel, you might as go all the way and make your own products. This do-it-yourself toner recipe is a simple way to incorporate tea tree oil into your pregnancy skin-care routine. It’s easy to make, inexpensive, and it works.


  • 1.5 ounces raw, organic apple cider vinegar such as Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 6 drops of a quality Tea Tree essential oil
  • 1.5 ounces filtered or distilled water
  • 3 ounce spray bottle (preferably dark glass to keep out light) and cotton pads


  1. Fill bottle halfway with apple cider vinegar;
  2. Fill remainder of bottle with water;
  3. Add in essential oil;
  4. After cleansing, spray directly onto face (be careful of your eyes) or onto a cotton pad;
  5. Moisturize if needed. Non-chemical sunscreen use is especially important during pregnancy to avoid melasma or “the mask of pregnancy.” (She Uncovered)

Thinking of Trying Other Essential Oils?

In addition to tea tree oil, the following essential oils are considered safe for pregnancy (during the second and third trimesters):

Bergamot, Roman chamomile, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mandarin, neroli, patchuli, petigrain, rose otto, rosewood, sandalwood, sweet orange, and yland yang. (Fit Pregnancy)

The following essential oils are not approved for use during pregnancy (this list in not comprehensive):

Aniseed, angelica, basil, black pepper, camphor, cinnamon, chamomile, clary sage, clove, fennel, fir, ginger, jasmine, juniper, marjoram, myrrh, nutmeg, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme, and wintergreen. (wellness mama)

Who Shouldn’t Use Essential Oils

As always, it is best to check with your doctor, midwife or aroma therapist before incorporating tea tree oil or any essential oil into your skin care regime.

It’s especially important if you have a history of miscarriage, epilepsy, blood clotting and heart problems, diabetes, liver, thyroid or kidney disease. (babycentre) Additionally, you might want to be extra cautious and avoid all unnecessary products and medicines during the first trimester.

When used responsibly, tea tree oil can be an effective and natural way to treat your pregnancy acne. Happy skin and happy pregnancy!

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