Tea tree oil and silver (silver nitrate) are both known to be effective against common micro-organisms.
Low concentrations of the two ingredients together have increased antimicrobial activity.
The combination was tested against Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans, the yeast which causes thrush.
Staph aureus is a common cause of infections and abscesses of the skin. In lab tests, the combination tea tree oil and silver nitrate mixture killed both pathogens.
Once the combination was shown to kill the pathogens, liposomes are used to deliver the mixture into infected wounds. Controlled release is available with the use of liposomes, which are made from naturally occurring fats or phospholipids.
Controlled release is important for several reasons. First, less concentrated amounts can be used and released slowly, which means decreased toxicity and decreased risk of side effects.
Tea tree oil can be irritating to the skin, especially when used in high concentrations. Silver can cause skin to become discolored, turning a bluish-gray color.
This new combination may be an effective treatment for MRSA, or methicillin resistant staph aureus, an increasing concern.
As we age, conditions like bedsores, or chronic leg ulcers, become more common. Traditional silver-based creams use high concentrations of the metal.
Products with a lower yet still effective amount of silver could be safer and more effective, while not damaging healthy skin in the surrounding area.