Do you know the benefits of black tea dressings?


Another post about traditional treatments, which you know is a topic I love;) For some time I had in mind to dedicate a blog post to black tea, but the lack of available evidence discouraged me from doing so… However, I have decided to do so after hearing about it in a presentation on new developments in the treatment of dermatitis at the CILAD VIRTUAL congress. Before focusing on the topic of the post, I would like to thank my friend and great wound expert, José Contreras, for proposing me to moderate with him the table on wounds at this congress, in which some of the world’s leading experts on wounds participated:)

Returning to black tea, the first thing to say is that it is a treatment that has been widely used for years among dermatologists of Germanic culture, despite the fact that, until very recently, there were no published studies on the benefit of its use. And how did I find out about this treatment if there was no evidence available?  Three years ago when I spent a stay at the University Hospital in Zurich and saw that my friend Jürg Hafner, a super wound expert, was using it.

The experience with this treatment in my clinical practice is very good. We use it mainly for erosive pustular dermatosis of the scalp and leg, where we recommend twice daily application in combination with topical corticosteroid.

Until a year ago there was nothing published in the literature on this treatment, but here is an article in which its great benefit in cases of facial eczema is evidenced.

This is a prospective, non-comparative study involving 22 patients with facial dermatitis (atopic or contact eczema). The patients applied gauzes soaked in black tea and emollient cream for 6 days. To prepare them, they infused a 2g black tea bag in 200 ml of water for 10 minutes. This first infusion was discarded and a second dilution was made with the same bag, left to cool at room temperature and the infusion was used to soak the compresses for several days of treatment. The frequency of application of the black tea was decreasing (5 times a day for the first few days, reducing to 3 applications from the third day onwards depending on the improvement). The recommended time to maintain the gauzes was 20 minutes. A highly significant reduction in all scales assessing signs and symptoms of eczema activity was found in the first three days of treatment, and this improvement continued until day 6. No adverse effects were observed.

Let’s take advantage of the references in this article to find out a little more about the properties and effects of black tea (although I’ll tell you that not much is known…).

The mechanisms by which black tea has such an interesting effect have not yet been studied, but it seems that it is not only the active principle that is interesting, but also the way it is applied. Firstly, it is known that black tea contains astringent substances (tannins) and flavonoids, with their known anti-inflammatory properties. Secondly, the application of compresses soaked in an aqueous solution reduces acute epidermal inflammation.

They can be used in combination with emollients (as in the study we have just seen) or with topical corticosteroids, which is how we use them in our practice. The frequency of application will depend on the evolution of the lesions.

An important thing to bear in mind is that black tea contains nickel. It is not clear whether its concentration is sufficient to cause hypersensitivity in patients with nickel allergy, but some German dermatologists consider it a contraindication for its use.

This inexpensive and safe treatment can be very interesting for those exudative eczemas, especially on the legs, that we find so often in our patients.


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