Tea tree oil is far more useful than you think. Here are 7 reasons why you need it at home

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Tea tree oil has been used for millennia as an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic agent to treat wounds and speed up healing time. The versatile oil was first put to use by the Aboriginal Australians. Tea tree oil is a must-have for your pantry—a multipurpose, aromatic extract that puts the essential in the term “essential oils.” Here are seven of many great reasons to keep tea tree oil around the house.

Dandruff

Tea tree oil is an excellent moisturizer. Add few drops to your favorite shampoo to help avoid a dry, itchy scalp. Or look for over-the-counter shampoos containing tea tree oil to help you avoid those pesky flakes.

Acne

The disinfectant properties of tea tree oil work wonders on blemishes. Dab a drop of oil onto a cotton swab, and apply the oil directly to areas affected with acne. The oil fights through blockages in your pores and dries out both blackheads and whiteheads, while disinfecting and helping to heal any sores.

Insect Bites

Tea tree oil is great for soothing and healing insect bites as well as preventing them from happening in the first place. The strong disinfectant-like aroma is a natural insect repellent. Add six to eight drops to two tablespoons of water, then apply to exposed areas of skin to repel mosquitoes and other pests. If you’ve already been bitten, apply a small dab of tea tree oil directly to the bites using a cotton swab.

Cuticle Care

Tea tree oil’s antibacterial and antifungal properties make it great for taking care of your cuticles and preventing nail fungus. Mix 10 drops each of tea tree oil lavender oil with a tablespoon each of jojoba and avocado oils. Massage the nourishing blend into your cuticles for a DIY mani-pedi.

Athlete’s Foot

Massage equal parts of tea tree and a carrier oil (like almond, avocado, or olive) all over your feet to get rid of athlete’s foot. Tea tree oil knocks out the fungus and provides instant, soothing relief for itchy, burning feet. No need to buy an over-the-counter spray—tea tree oil will save the day.

Yeast Infection

Lubricate a tampon with coconut oil, and add a few drops of tea tree oil to treat a yeast infection. Leave it in for an hour, and repeat up to five times per day until your symptoms subside. The same mixture can also be used as a remedy for jock itch.

Mouthwash

Combine 12 to 15 drops of tea tree oil with an ounce of water to create a mouthwash solution that kills bacteria while freshening your breath. As with any mouthwash, just swish it around in your mouth for a minute or two, and then spit it out.

If you have sensitive skin, treatments that use tea tree oil as a topical solution may not work for you. If you suspect sensitivity, test by applying a small amount of diluted tea tree oil to an unaffected area of your skin to see how your body reacts to the oil before using it regularly.

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