Tea tree oil is a cleanser and essential oil with antifungal and antibacterial properties that is also a great alternative to baby shampoo when it comes to cleaning around the eyelids and lashes.
Cleaning the eyelids and lashes in the morning and at night can help keep the lashes and meibomian glands free of debris and minimize the amount of demodex, or eyelid mites, that can cause blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction, and secondary dry eye complaints in patients.
Demodex live in hair follicles in nearly every person, but letting the eyelids continue to build up with dry skin, oily residue from the skin, and debris can help these mites multiply quickly.
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that is typically caused from the meibomian glands in the inner eyelid.
Why Is Eyelid Cleanser Important?
Letting the eyelids build up with debris from dry skin, dried meibum from the meibomian glands, makeup, or demodex can cause the meibomian glands to become clogged; therefore, decreasing the amount and quality of meibum being produced from the glands and slowly killing, or causing atrophy, of the glands.
Once the glands begin atrophying, there is no cure or treatment that can get the glands to regrow into their once fully-functioning state, and patients will likely have complaints of dryness, irritation, and ocular surface pain. This is one major benefit in using tea tree lid scrubs on a regular basis.
Should You Still Clean Your Eyelids If You Have A Stye or Pink Eye?
Yes, tea tree oil can still be used with pink eye or with a stye on the eyelid. While there are many causes of pink eye, ranging from autoimmune inflammation in episcleritis to bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, tea tree oil can continually be used in any of these cases.
Another benefit with tea tree oil is that it often comes in a spray bottle, preventing the spread, or cross contamination, from one eye to the other that you may get with an eyelid wipe if you had a bacterial or viral conjunctivitis and used the same wipe for both eyes. If you do have conjunctivitis, you can use essential oils to treat pink eye.
What Is Tea Tree Oil Anyway?
Tea tree oil is a cleanser with antifungal and antibacterial properties that is also a great alternative to baby shampoo when it comes to cleaning around the eyelids and lashes.
According to the NIH, “Tea tree oil comes from steam distillation of the leaves of the tea tree. The tea tree grows on the swampy southeast coast of Australia. In fact, the aboriginal people of Australia have traditionally used tea tree oil as an antiseptic (germ killer) and herbal medicine. Today, external use of tea tree oil is promoted for various conditions such as acne, athlete’s foot, lice, nail fungus, cuts, mite infection at the base of the eyelids, and insect bites.”
Can I Clean My Eyelids With Tea Tree Oil?
Yes, tea tree oil is safe to use on the eyelids and eyelashes, and can even be used in patients with sensitive skin, rosacea, and acne.
Is Tea Tree Oil The Best Product For Cleaning Eyelids?
Tea tree oil is a great option for cleaning the eyelids and eyelashes, but it’s just like artificial tears, car manufacturers, or clothing brands. Everyone has their own opinion on which one is “the best” and many patients find relief with tea tree oil, and many patients find relief with other forms of similar treatment such as OCuSOFT Hypochlor spray and Blephadex eyelid wipes. Patients may be suggested a certain form of treatment from their eye care provider based on feedback and success from their other patients, but it may take a trial or two of a certain product before what works best for your symptomatic relief is achieved, and this is perfectly normal.
Is Tea Tree Oil Harmful to Eyes?
Patients may notice an increase in sensitivity if they use a product with higher amounts of tea tree oil. If the tea tree oil finds its way into the patient’s eyes, watering, irritation, and redness may occur initially but should subside within a few minutes.
This amount of time in discomfort can be minimized by adding a drop or two of artificial tears to the affected eye. Patients should also be advised not to rinse their eyes with tap water.
If the discomfort does not subside, contact your optometrist or ophthalmologist for evaluation as conjunctival hyperemia or redness and corneal epithelial defects may be present, especially if a larger concentration of tea tree oil was used.
Can I Wear Contacts If I Use Tea Tree Cleanser
Absolutely! In fact, practicing good eye hygiene is one of the best ways to lower the risk of eye infection when wearing contact lenses. If you need to buy more or new contact lenses, don’t forget to use our price comparison page to see which store has the lowest price for your contacts. You’ll join the thousands of people who’ve used our free site to save money.
Is Tea Tree Soap Good For Blepharitis?
Some patients swear by the benefits of tea tree oil for blepharitis, and there are some studies showing the benefits.
I usually recommend diluting baby shampoo scrubs or Ocusoft lid scrubs, but it could be worth trying if you are interested in trying it and understand the risks.
How Do You Dilute Tea Tree Oil On Eyelids?
Tea tree oil can be diluted with mineral oil, olive oil, or coconut oil, and it is imperative that patients dilute it to avoid causing severe irritation or burning.
Many of the commercial forms of tea tree oil sprays are 1-2% tea tree oil concentration, meaning that for every 1 drop of tea tree oil, you would need 49 drops of another oil for 2% tea tree oil concentration and 99 drops of the other oil for 1% tea tree oil concentration.
Patients should be encouraged to use tea tree oil in concentrations of 1-5% if they are making their own solutions at home.
What Are Best Practices for Cleaning Eyelids?
Dry eye is a multifactorial disease process that can be caused by a number of reasons. If the eyelids and eyelashes seem to be the culprit, patients should be encouraged to use a warm compress in the morning and before bed to melt the meibum in the meibomian glands to increase flow onto the eyes, followed by a tea tree oil or hypochlorous acid spray.
Once the spray is dried, taking an eyelid wipe and wiping each eyelid, along with the top and bottom row of eyelashes, to remove the debris should be recommended.
If this is unable to be performed twice a day, the patient should try to at least complete this in the morning so that the residue and debris from sleeping can be wiped away, therefore hopefully relieving the patient’s symptoms throughout the day.
Camilo is the founder of Contacts Compare and is a contact lens enthusiast who has been buying, shopping, and comparing contact lenses for over 12 years. He started Contacts Compare because it was nearly impossible to compare prices quickly to make sure he was getting the best price possible. He holds degrees from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania. His favorite contact lens is Acuvue Oasys 1-Day with Hydraluxe.