Tea tree oil, which is produced from the leaves of a plant that grows in swampy areas of Australia, has gained popularity as an inexpensive and chemical-free treatment for acne. Celebrities flood the airways promoting expensive products like ProActiv and Americans spend millions of dollars each year on over-the-counter and prescription medications to control breakouts. Some of the products sold on TV encourage you to join a "club" so that there is a recurring charge on your credit card. Tea tree oil, which cost only pennies a day, is Mother Nature's prescription for clearer skin.

Although most people associate acne with the teenage years, it also affects adults. Statistics show that 25% of men and 50% of women will have acne at some point in their adult lives. Acne is a common skin disease, which involves the oil gland and hair follicles. It ranges from mild to severe and can lead to blackheads, whiteheads, red bumps and blemishes.

Although experts disagree on the exact cause of acne, everyone agrees that the condition is aggravated by bacteria. That is probably why tea tree oil is considered an effective treatment. Tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial disinfectant that has been used by natural healers for thousands of years to treat wounds, rashes and other skin conditions. It contains substances called "terpenoids" which give it antibacterial abilities. It is a light yellow oil that has a scent similar to nutmeg, and it is produced by steaming tea leaves and then squeezing the oil out. Other skin conditions that can be treated with tea tree oil include sunburn, warts, herpes, insect bites, rashes, dandruff and minor wounds.

Tea tree oil is included in many over-the-counter acne remedies and is available in natural health stores in an extract form. The extract is very strong and has to be diluted before it can be applied to the skin. Undiluted tea tree oil may cause skin irritation, redness, blistering, over drying and itching when applied directly to the skin. A five percent tea tree oil treatment can be made by mixing five parts tree oil to 95 parts water. Talk to your holistic practitioner to determine the concentration that is best suited to your needs.

There are other steps you can take to help eliminate acne and maintain clear skin, including keeping your hands and hair away from your face and resisting the urge to "pick" at the blemishes. Wash your face once or twice daily using a mild, non-drying soap and limit the use of makeup and facial creams.

Why spend hundreds of dollars on chemical-based acne medications when tea tree oil can treat your skin problems naturally and effectively? One small bottle costs less than $10 and lasts for months. Let Mother Nature lead the way to glowing skin and vibrant health.