Randomized Controlled Trial of Topical Tea Tree Preparation for MRSA Wounds

Thursday, 2 August 2012: 1:15 PM

Rainbow L. P. Lee, RN, MN
School of Nursing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Thomas K. S. Wong, PhD
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to acquire updated knowledge and practice skills on care of wounds colonized with MRSA.

Learning Objective 2: The learners will be able to aquire knowledge and practice skills regarding use of tea tree oil in reducing risk of spreading MRSA infection.

Purpose:  This study had two aims: to evaluate the effect of a topical tea tree preparation to eradicate methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on wounds, as well as its influence on wound healing.

Methods: It is a randomized controlled trial, single-blind, pre- and post-study design.  The routine saline dressing was compared with a topical tea tree preparation dressing for nursing home residents presenting with MRSA wounds.  Ten residents were eligible for inclusion in this pilot study.  Five were randomly assigned as a control group who received routine saline dressing.  The other five residents were randomly assigned as a tea tree group who received the topical tea tree preparation dressing.  Bacterial burden in terms of the numbers of MRSA isolates presenting on the wound surface and the influence on wound healing in terms of surface area, exudate amount and tissue type of wound surface appearance were assessed before and after the intervention.  In addition, the incidence of adverse reactions from the topical tea tree preparation was also assessed and documented throughout the study.

Results: There were no statistically significant differences found in MRSA bacterial burden (p = .122) on wounds between the control and tea tree groups.  However, the topical tea tree preparation dressing has been proved to be significantly more effective than the routine saline dressing in terms of reducing the number of MRSA isolates on the wound surface.  A statistically significant improvement in wound healing (p = .013) was noted in the tea tree group after the 10-day intervention period. 

Conclusion: The tea tree oils has been evaluated and found able to reduce the MRSA bacterial burden and promote wound healing.  There remains the further possibility that tea tree oils may facilitate auto-debridement on the wound bed by rehydrating slough and necrotic tissue in order to enhance the rate of autolysis.