Tea Tree Oil Acne Treatments on Pinterest: Will It Save Your Face?

Tree Oil Acne Treatments on Pinterest: Will It Save Your Face? poster

Research Authorship:

Madison Hoggarth, Hannah Goepfert, Sarah Whitney

Faculty Mentor:

Dr. Julie Merten | Brooks College of Health | Department of Public Health


Background: The power of social media has defined many aspects of modern society and provides easy access to healthcare information. Specifically, Pinterest with more than 320 million monthly users provides a platform to share both product examples and homemade remedies. Acne affects between 40 to 50 million people in the U.S. causing physical irritation and emotional distress. Essential oils, especially tea tree oil, have shown antibacterial properties in acne treatment but proper application and use is critical.

Purpose: In this study, the portrayal of tea tree oil as an acne treatment on Pinterest and its efficacy as a topical acne treatment was analyzed.

Methods: Using the search term tea tree oil acne treatment, samples were taken from every five pins to collect 250 pins for our final sample. From the data collected a code book was formed which was then pilot tested. A final codebook was developed which was used by 1 primary coder and two sub coders.

Results: Of the 250 pins sampled, the overall portrayal was mostly (66%) positive, while the other 34% of pins were “not apparent”. The percentage of commercial products was 30% , while homemade products was 40%. The most common severity of acne claimed to treat was severe acne, while none claimed to treat moderate acne. Surprisingly, only 20% of the sample recommended the use of additional ingredients. Additionally, 23% of the pins had other health claims.

Conclusions: With social media altering the way health information is portrayed, it is important to identify the difference between scientifically-proven and misleading information.

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