Published on in Vol 6 (2023)

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Topical Application of Tea Tree Oil for the Treatment of Verruca Vulgaris

Topical Application of Tea Tree Oil for the Treatment of Verruca Vulgaris

Topical Application of Tea Tree Oil for the Treatment of Verruca Vulgaris

Research Letter

1Department of Neurology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, India

2Department of Yoga, Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College and Hospital, Chennai, India

3Department of Clinical Research, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai, India

4Department of Physiology, Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College and Hospital, Chennai, India

Corresponding Author:

Maheshkumar Kuppusamy, PhD

Department of Physiology

Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College and Hospital

Anna Arch, Arumbakkam

Chennai, 600106


Phone: 91 9884591739


Warts (verruca vulgaris) are benign epithelial proliferations associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. They are a DNA virus belonging to the Papillomaviridae family [1]. Worldwide, 10% of the population is affected, and the prevalence is high in children attending school [2]. 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 [2]. Conventional treatment for warts includes topical application of salicylic acid, podophyllotoxin, trichloroacetic acid, formaldehyde, 5-fluorouracil, and photodynamic therapy [1]. Procedures such as cryotherapy, laser ablation, electrocautery, and surgical excision are painful and have higher chances of reoccurrence [1]. 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 [3,4], 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 (Table 1). Warts were predominantly found on the upper and lower extremities, except for one case where the location was periungual [5]. The efficacy was assessed by using the visual analog scale [3] and clinical photographs daily [1,3]. Additionally, a follow-up was conducted to monitor for any recurrence [1]. All the studies included in this analysis reported complete clearance of warts.

Table 1. Characteristics of the studies included in the research letter.
Study, year, and participantsCountryAge (years)Diagnosed bySite of wartsIntervention detailsOutcome
Millar and Moore [4], 2008

Female pediatric patientUnited Kingdom7DermatologistDistal phalanges of the right middle fingerTopical application of tea tree oil once daily for 12 daysComplete clearance of warts without reoccurrence
Alsanad and Alkhamees [3], 2016Saudi Arabia

Complete clearance of warts without reoccurrence

Male child
Left soleTopical application of tea tree oil twice a day for 20 days

Male child
Proximal phalanges of the right little fingerTopical application of tea tree oil twice a day for 10 days
Lim et al [5], 2020

Female childSouth Korea12DermatologistPeriungual and plantarTopical application of tea tree oil for 9 monthsComplete clearance of warts without reoccurrence
Deenadayalan et al [1], 2022

Adult femaleIndia22DermatologistDistal phalanges of the right handTopical application of tea tree oil once a day for 7 days, afterward alternative day for 2 weeksComplete 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 [4]. Terpinene-4-ol and α-terpineol in TTO are known for their antiviral property and inhibit viral replication in both enveloped and nonenveloped viruses [4]. 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 [1]. 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

None declared.

  1. 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. Jan 01, 2022;16(1):KD01-KD02. [CrossRef]
  2. 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. Mar 2022;33(2):637-642. [CrossRef] [Medline]
  3. Alsanad SM, Alkhamees OA. Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)-an efficient treatment for warts: two case reports. Int Arch Biomed Clin Res. Dec 28, 2016;2(4):1-2. [CrossRef]
  4. Millar BC, Moore JE. Successful topical treatment of hand warts in a paediatric patient with tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia). Complement Ther Clin Pract. Nov 2008;14(4):225-227. [CrossRef] [Medline]
  5. 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
IL: interleukin
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 05.10.23.


©Deenadayalan Boopalan, Venugopal Vijayakumar, Poornima Ravi, Maheshkumar Kuppusamy. Originally published in JMIR Dermatology (, 05.10.2023.

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