A common ingredient in many beauty products can increase the users chances of suffering from “superbug” infections including MRSA, it has been warned.
Scientists have discovered that repeated exposure to low doses of tea tree oil could endanger people.
The experts from the University of Ulster revealed exposure to low doses of the oil made pathogens such as MRSA, E.coli and salmonella more resistant to antibiotics, and capable of causing more serious infections.
Tea tree oil is commonly used in many products including shampoos, body lotions and toiletries, but there is no legislation requiring manufacturers to state the concentration of the oil in any of the products.
Professor David McDowell, of the university’s Food and Microbiology Research Group, said: "We have been growing pathogens such as MRSA, E.coli and salmonella in low concentrations of tea tree oil.
"These pathogens are not sufficient to kill the bacteria, but can switch on their defence mechanisms.
"Unfortunately these defence mechanisms have the added effect of making bacteria more resistant to antibiotics and are able to cause ‘harder to treat’ infections