While tea tree oil has shown some promise in treating vaginal yeast infections, more research is needed to show its effectiveness. It may be an ingredient in over-the-counter suppositories.

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that has antifungal and antibacterial properties. It’s been used for hundreds of years to help treat skin infections and heal wounds.

Some people use vaginal tea tree oil suppositories as an alternative to over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription yeast infection medications.

Most studies in this area have been done on isolated strains of infection in a lab or on animals. That said, tea tree oil does show promise for humans, especially in treating drug-resistant yeast infections when in combination with other ingredients. However, essential oils such as tea tree oil should not be applied internally or directly to the skin.

Read on to learn more about how tea tree oil works, how to use an OTC suppository, potential side effects, and more.

Essential oils

While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

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Researchers in one 2021 study examined tea tree oil as a treatment for the common yeast infection strain Candida albicans. They looked at Pluronic® F-127, a medication for yeast infections that includes tee tree oil as the primary ingredient.

The researchers found that Pluronic® F-127 fought against resistant yeast infection strains and had beneficial bioadhesive properties which could help prevent future yeast infections.

When looking at the research as a whole, there are more mixed results. Tea tree oil may only be effective against certain strains, at certain concentrations, in combination with other essential oils, or as an ingredient in medications like Pluronic® F-127.

More studies are needed to determine if tea tree oil is the most effective essential oil or if other ingredients, such as boric acid, and essential oils in these medications play a bigger role in treating yeast infections.

Before you try tea tree oil suppositories, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. They can also offer guidance on how to use suppositories and other remedies.

Premade suppositories can be found OTC at most drug stores or through online retailers like Amazon.com.

Popular brands include:

  • Tea Tree Therapy
  • Femallay Natural

The average dose is one suppository a day. You should insert a new suppository each day for up to six days.

Insert your suppository at the same time each day. Before bed may work best for your schedule.

While some folks claim you can also make your own suppositories, this is not recommended. Using essential oils, like tea tree oil, internally can increase your risk of adverse effects. It may also potentially be dangerous, as the FDA does not monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils.

Other tips for using suppositories for a vaginal yeast infection:

  • You may see an improvement in your symptoms in as little as one day. You should still take the full course of medication to ensure that the infection doesn’t return.
  • In severe cases, store-bought treatment can be used twice a day for up to 12 days.
  • Wearing panty liners or pads can help you manage any excess discharge from the suppository.
  • You may need to use a backup birth control option while using oil-based suppositories. Oil can weaken latex condoms or diaphragms.
  • If your symptoms don’t improve within a week, you may want to a doctor.

It’s important to note that most of the research does not support the use of tea tree oil suppositories against yeast infections. The more effective solution seems to be tablets taken through the mouth or vaginal suppositories with tea tree oil and other ingredients.

Some people also consider douching — cleaning out the vagina — with tea tree oil and water. However, many doctors advise against this practice.

Douching can upset your vagina’s natural environment and lead to further infection. Regular douching can also lead to difficulty getting pregnant. You should always talk with a doctor before trying this at home.

Essential oils should not be applied internally or directly to the skin because they can cause burns and irritation. They must be diluted with a carrier oil. Douching even with diluted tea tree oil may pose health threats.

Although many people are able to use suppositories containing tea tree oil to vaginal tissue with no issues, minor side effects are possible.

You may experience:

If you develop discomfort, discontinue use. Talk with a doctor if your symptoms continue after completing your treatment.

Essential oils such as tea tree oil should not be applied internally or directly to skin. This can cause irritation, burning, and other health issues.

Tea tree oil should never be swallowed or taken orally. Oral ingestion of tea tree oil is toxic. Tea tree oil is poisonous, as are other essential oils like eucalyptus essential oil. Consuming tea tree oil may cause a loss of muscle coordination, confusion, or other symptoms.

You can also use OTC or prescription antifungal medications to treat yeast infections. They come in creams, ointments, suppositories, or tablets. These treatments are often safe for use during pregnancy.

OTC medications are usually used for three to seven days.

Because there has been more research since 2015 on tea tree oil in combination with other ingredients to treat yeast infections, more brands have added tea tree oil as an ingredient to their prescription medication.

These brands include:

  • poloxamer 407 (Pluronic® F-127)
  • butoconazole (Gynazole-1)
  • clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin)
  • miconazole (Monistat 3)
  • terconazole (Terazol 3)

These medications may cause burning or irritation in and around the vagina. Some contain oil, so you may also need to use an alternative form of birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy as oils may weaken condoms.

Single-dose medications, like fluconazole (Diflucan), are taken orally. They’re also prescription-only. If the first dose doesn’t work, a doctor may prescribe a second dose to take three days later.

It’s also possible that suppositories containing tea tree oil won’t have any effect on your symptoms, regardless of how long you use it. It could even lead to further irritation and discomfort.

You should always check with a doctor before using an alternative remedy, especially if it’s used internally. They can discuss your individual risk of side effects and complications, as well as advise you on use.

You should also consult a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve within the week or become more severe.

While tea tree oil has shown some promise in the treatment of yeast infections, more studies are needed to show its effectiveness.

Tea tree oil may be used as an ingredient in vaginal suppositories purchased over the counter for treating a yeast infection. Tea tree oil should never be taken orally.

If a yeast infection lingers or gets worse after using this therapy, it may be best to consult with a doctor.