Coal tar is applied to the skin to reduce the itching of
atopic dermatitis. It is not as strong as a
corticosteroid and can be used as a "bridge therapy"
from a stronger medicine when symptoms have improved. Coal tar may also be
used for treatment of thick skin (lichenified) if
other treatment is not effective.
Coal tar is available as a gel, cream, or ointment or as a solution
for the bath. Examples of coal tar preparations include 5% coal tar in a
hydro-alcoholic gel (such as Estar) or 5% liquor carbonis detergens in a cream
Coal tar preparations are generally thought to be safe. Use coal tar carefully near the eyes or in skin folds. Do not use a tar preparation if your skin rash is very inflamed.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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