4 not-so-common uses for tea tree oil

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Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts and should be used responsibly. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and consult an expert. Tea tree oil is a potential skin irritant, and should not be used undiluted on sensitive skin. On non-reactive skin, it can be used undiluted as a spot treatment only – but never on large areas of skin.

Here are 4 not-so-common uses for tea tree oil:

1. Itchy scalp or dandruff remedy. Some itchy scalp and dandruff conditions are caused by yeast (also known as fungal) infections. Since tea tree oil is great at treating those, adding a microdose of it to your shampoo or to a scalp treatment should work wonders. If you don’t trust yourself with the dosage, you can also try a tea tree-infused shampoo.

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2. Colds and coughs. At some stage of your life, you’ve probably inhaled eucalyptus vapours over a steaming bowl, right? That would have been to ease your breathing and relieve some of the irritation. Unfortunately, eucalyptus oil doesn’t have all that many anti-viral properties. Add a few drops of tea tree oil into that same steam mixture and you’ll be treating the cause of the cold as well.

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If you (or your kids) are not a fan of steaming, you can also pour the essential oils onto the corners of the shower floor and close the bathroom doors and windows before you open the taps – it’s not quite as effective, but it’s a close second place.

3. DIY deodorant. You don’t need to be a cosmetic chemist to make your own deodorising powder – simply add tea tree oil to your powder base of choice (usually talcum or cornstarch works best). You can use this anti-bacterial powder to deodorise feet, shoes, and even underarms and intimate areas (if you’ve used cornstarch).

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4. Beat bad breath. Bad breath is caused by a specific bacteria that lives on the back of your tongue. Aside from brushing your tongue twice a day, gargling or spraying with medicated solutions is often recommended. Tea tree diluted in water is also very effective at treating bad breath due to its broad action on microbes. Keep the solution to a 3% concentration, and avoid swallowing.

This post first appeared on All4Women.