Warts (verruca vulgaris) are benign epithelial proliferations associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. They are a DNA virus belonging to the Papillomaviridae family . Worldwide, 10% of the population is affected, and the prevalence is high in children attending school [ ]. Common warts are excessive growths with an irregular surface ranging from 1 millimeter to several centimeters and are commonly seen on the upper and lower extremities [ ]. Conventional treatment for warts includes topical application of salicylic acid, podophyllotoxin, trichloroacetic acid, formaldehyde, 5-fluorouracil, and photodynamic therapy [ ]. Procedures such as cryotherapy, laser ablation, electrocautery, and surgical excision are painful and have higher chances of reoccurrence [ ]. In aromatherapy, tea tree oil (TTO), extracted through steam distillation of the leaves and terminal branches of the Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia, is used for the management of various dermatological conditions, including HPV [ , ], by naturopathy physicians. This letter aims to present TTO as a potential remedy for HPV warts, highlighting its properties, benefits, and the need for further research to establish its effectiveness and safety.
We performed a comprehensive literature search to include original articles, case reports and case series, and abstracts that discussed the effect of TTO on HPV verruca vulgaris; in PubMed, Embase, and Google Scholar; and were published on April 9, 2022, or earlier. Reviews and articles that used TTO with other interventions were excluded. The following keywords were used: “tea tree oil” OR “aromatherapy” OR “naturopathy” AND “human papillomavirus” OR “HPV” OR “verruca vulgaris” OR “warts.”
A total of 4 articles involving 5 patients with warts treated with aromatherapy were included (). Warts were predominantly found on the upper and lower extremities, except for one case where the location was periungual [ ]. The efficacy was assessed by using the visual analog scale [ ] and clinical photographs daily [ , ]. Additionally, a follow-up was conducted to monitor for any recurrence [ ]. All the studies included in this analysis reported complete clearance of warts.
|Study, year, and participants||Country||Age (years)||Diagnosed by||Site of warts||Intervention details||Outcome|
|Millar and Moore , 2008|
|Female pediatric patient||United Kingdom||7||Dermatologist||Distal phalanges of the right middle finger||Topical application of tea tree oil once daily for 12 days||Complete clearance of warts without reoccurrence|
|Alsanad and Alkhamees , 2016||Saudi Arabia||Dermatologist||Complete clearance of warts without reoccurrence|
|Male child||9||Left sole||Topical application of tea tree oil twice a day for 20 days|
|Male child||14||Proximal phalanges of the right little finger||Topical application of tea tree oil twice a day for 10 days|
|Lim et al , 2020|
|Female child||South Korea||12||Dermatologist||Periungual and plantar||Topical application of tea tree oil for 9 months||Complete clearance of warts without reoccurrence|
|Deenadayalan et al , 2022|
|Adult female||India||22||Dermatologist||Distal phalanges of the right hand||Topical application of tea tree oil once a day for 7 days, afterward alternative day for 2 weeks||Complete clearance of warts without reoccurrence|
This research letter indicates that TTO can be beneficial in treating warts, which are caused by HPV and commonly occur in pediatric and school-aged children. The potent anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties of TTO have been widely used to treat HPV infections. In vitro studies have also used TTO to treat herpes simplex virus . Terpinene-4-ol and α-terpineol in TTO are known for their antiviral property and inhibit viral replication in both enveloped and nonenveloped viruses [ ]. Terpinene-4-ol can inhibit the synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-8, and prostaglandin E2 while increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-10 and IL-4), thereby reducing pain [ ]. In addition to pain management and warts clearance, a pleasant scent may play a role in patient satisfaction. The treatment is also less expensive and has no adverse effects. The limitation of this letter was using single case reports with a small number of patients.
TTO should be considered a safe, cost-effective, noninvasive modality in the management of HPV warts. More research is necessary to understand the clinical applications and other long-term systemic effects.
Conflicts of Interest
- Deenadayalan B, Venugopal V, Maheshkumar K, Akila A, Priya CY. Effect of topical application of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on hand warts. J Clin Diagn Res 2022 Jan 01;16(1):KD01-KD02 [CrossRef]
- Huang K, Li M, Xiao Y, Wu L, Li Y, Yang Y, et al. The application of medical scale in the treatment of plantar warts: analysis and prospect. J Dermatolog Treat 2022 Mar;33(2):637-642 [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Alsanad SM, Alkhamees OA. Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)-an efficient treatment for warts: two case reports. Int Arch Biomed Clin Res 2016 Dec 28;2(4):1-2 [CrossRef]
- Millar BC, Moore JE. Successful topical treatment of hand warts in a paediatric patient with tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia). Complement Ther Clin Pract 2008 Nov;14(4):225-227 [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Lim HY, Yoon HJ, Ko WS. A case of Verruca vulgaris in a paediatric patient treated with aroma therapy-based Korean medicine by tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia). J Korean Med Ophthalmol Otolaryngol Dermatol 2020;33(3):162-170 [CrossRef]
|HPV: human papillomavirus|
|TTO: tea tree oil|
Edited by R Dellavalle; submitted 08.03.23; peer-reviewed by DSKP A. V., M Gasmi ; comments to author 28.08.23; revised version received 06.09.23; accepted 25.09.23; published 05.10.23Copyright
©Deenadayalan Boopalan, Venugopal Vijayakumar, Poornima Ravi, Maheshkumar Kuppusamy. Originally published in JMIR Dermatology (http://derma.jmir.org), 05.10.2023.
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