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Is Tea Tree Oil Safe During Pregnancy?

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD
Natural doesn't always mean safe.

Many moms wonder if they can continue using tea tree oil while pregnant. Are there risks involved, or is it safe?

Tea tree oils may help you relieve problems associated with pregnancy.

But knowing how to use tea tree oil safely during pregnancy and which kind to choose is essential.

Key Takeaways

  • The use of essential oils, including tea tree oil, should be avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy. Using essential oils can cause uterine contractions that negatively affect the developing baby.
  • Tea tree oil should be applied to the skin in small amounts, never ingested, and never used in the mouth for any reason.
  • Mothers should be aware that there is a lack of clinical evidence supporting the use of tea tree oil during pregnancy and should discuss options with their doctor.
  • Expectant mothers should avoid oral exposure to tea tree oil at all costs and should not use tea tree oil during labor.

Can I Use Tea Tree Oil During Pregnancy?

It’s important to remember that natural doesn’t always mean safe.

Essential oils are highly concentrated, making them much more potent than other substances that use that same type of plant, like teas (1).

Is Tea Tree Oil Safe For Your Baby?

Like many products, there are risks associated with this one as well. Essential oils are of such purified content that they do have the ability to cross the placenta.

Important Note

You should not begin the use of any essential oils, including tea tree oil, until reaching the second trimester. Using essential oils can cause uterine contractions that negatively affect your developing baby (2).

Proper Use

You should only apply tea tree oil to the skin in small amounts.

You should not use tea tree oil orally. If ingested, the concentrated amounts can be toxic to you and lethal for your unborn baby.

If you use the proper dilution and apply it to your skin appropriately, there should be little to no effects.

These are some of the side effects you could experience if you ingest tea tree oil:

  • Confusion.
  • Inability to walk.
  • Coma.
  • Inflammation of the skin.

When not ingested, these are some of the other side effects you might see:

  • Allergies.
  • Depressed behavior.
  • Hormonal side effects.

As you can see, some of the common side effects could be dangerous to an expectant mother. If you use tea tree oil and experience any of the above, you should immediately discontinue use and let your doctor know about it.

The typical side effects can lead to dehydration and an improper hormonal balance for a pregnant woman.

Important Facts For Your Safety

There is a lack of clinical evidence supporting the use of tea tree oil and pregnancy — however, it has been noted if you use it correctly (topically), it should not harm your baby (3).

Keeping that in mind, there are a couple of other facts you should know.

You Shouldn't Use Tea Tree Oil In The Mouth For Any Reason

Because tea tree oil is so concentrated, you should never gargle with it. Expectant mothers should avoid oral exposure to tea tree oil at all costs.

There are some variations of a tea tree oil oral supplement. Expectant mothers should avoid this — the amounts in this supplement are of a dangerous concentration.

It is always best to be cautious in pregnancy and use everything in moderation. There are many other alternatives to tea tree oil that you can use for any issues including skin issues during pregnancy. It is best to always discuss your options with your doctor before using any natural or synthetic products at home. If you get approval from your doctor, always make sure you are buying 100% pure oils and always check the expiration date.

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Editor's Note:

Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD

Tea Tree Oils and Labor

It is strongly advised that you avoid the use of tea tree oils during labor. Tea tree oil has been known to lessen the frequency of contractions and sometimes cause them to cease. This can be extremely dangerous for the mother and baby.

If it does not cause contractions to cease, it can cause them to become less effective. This can lead to longer labor and potentially harm the mother and baby.

To ensure safe labor, it would be best to eliminate the use of tea tree oils once you reach 35 weeks in your pregnancy. If you are at risk for early labor, you should discontinue use even sooner.

Alternative Uses

Essential oils are very concentrated, and this is why they are so powerful. As we mentioned above the oils can cross the placenta. If this worries you, there are alternative ways to increase safety.

You Don’t Have To Apply The Oil Directly To Your Skin

You do not have to apply tea tree oil directly to your skin. It may be better for you to dilute the oil before use, in general.

By dilating the oil, it becomes less concentrated. Yes, this decreases its effectiveness, but it increases its safety.

Here is how you can do that.

  • Use the product in soap: You can mix the tea tree oil into your regular face soap. This helps dilute the oil while increasing the effectiveness of your face wash.
  • Mix tea tree oil into your lotion: You can mix the oil into a facial lotion. This will allow your lotion to moisturize and the oil to treat your acne.
  • Add tea tree oil to shampoo: For mothers suffering from dandruff, a small amount of tea tree oil in your shampoo can possibly help cure this.

There are skin and hair products that already have tea tree oil incorporated, but it is best to ensure the oil’s purity and the safety of the whole product.

Another method of implementing tea tree oils into your life can be via a diffuser. This eliminates the topical interaction, so your results will not be as effective. This option is safe for you and your baby starting in the second trimester, so it may be one to consider.

Be careful when using tea tree oil through a diffuser in a closed room since it has a strong smell that can trigger nausea.


Is Tea Tree Oil Good for Pregnancy Stretch Marks?

Yes, tea tree oil is great for pregnancy stretch marks. While it’s recommended to use tea tree oil in moderation while pregnant, the same rules don’t apply once you’ve given birth.

After birth, feel free to apply tea tree oil topically to stretch marks regularly. Tea tree oil can help fade the marks immensely.

Can I Use Tea Tree Oil for Nail Fungus During Pregnancy?

Remember, you shouldn’t use tea tree oil at all during your first trimester of pregnancy. Unless you’re expecting an early birth, make sure to stop using tea tree oil at 35 weeks, too.

That being said, once you’re in the second trimester, you can use small amounts of tea tree oil to help treat a mild case of nail fungus. For any kind of nail fungus that seems to be getting worse, head to your doctor and seek treatment.

Does Tea Tree Oil Relieve Itching?

Yes, tea tree oil is great for relieving the discomfort of itchy skin. If you’re pregnant (and not within the first trimester or post-35 weeks danger zone), then we recommend diluting the tea tree oil in lotion.

Using concentrated tea tree oil can sometimes cause pregnant women to experience negative side effects.

Can I Put Tea Tree Oil on My Neck for Sore Throat?

Just to be clear, it is incredibly dangerous for you and deadly to your unborn baby to ingest tea tree oil in any amount. Never consume tea tree oil. If you want to use tea tree oil to treat a sore throat, mix the oil into a lotion. Rub the lotion on your throat to soak it in a diluted concentration.

How Toxic Is Tea Tree Oil for Humans?

Tea tree oil is incredibly toxic if you ingest it. Even a tiny amount can be a death sentence for your unborn child.

For an adult, consuming tea tree oil can mean falling into a coma. Topically, tea tree oil has been known to have positive anti-inflammatory effects. Still, it’s recommended to dilute the oil in water or lotion first.

The Bottom Line

Tea tree oil is so concentrated that it is capable of crossing the placenta.

It is best to wait to use tea tree oils until you reach your second trimester. Also, steer clear of tea tree oils during labor to avoid slowing or even ceasing contractions. It is recommended that you discontinue tea tree oil use once you reach 35 weeks gestation.

If you have doubts about safety, ask your doctor or healthcare professional for their medical opinion before using tea tree oil.

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Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD

Dr. Njoud Jweihan is a medical doctor in Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for primary care and women’s health. She has over nine years of medical education and training experience. She also enjoys cooking, traveling and is excited to welcome her first child this summer!