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COAL TAR (Topical)

Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S.—

  • Alphosyl
  • Aquatar
  • Balnetar Therapeutic Tar Bath
  • Cutar Water Dispersible Emollient Tar
  • Denorex Extra Strength Medicated Shampoo
  • Denorex Extra Strength Medicated Shampoo with Conditioners
  • Denorex Medicated Shampoo
  • Denorex Medicated Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Denorex Mountain Fresh Herbal Scent Medicated Shampoo
  • DHS Tar Gel Shampoo
  • DHS Tar Shampoo
  • Doak Oil Forte Therapeutic Bath Treatment
  • Doak Oil Therapeutic Bath Treatment For All-Over Body Care
  • Doak Tar Lotion
  • Doak Tar Shampoo
  • Doctar Hair & Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Doctar Shampoo
  • Estar
  • Fototar
  • Ionil T Plus
  • Lavatar
  • Medotar
  • Pentrax Anti-Dandruff Tar Shampoo
  • Psorigel
  • PsoriNail Topical Solution
  • Taraphilic
  • Tarbonis
  • Tarpaste `Doak'
  • T/Derm Tar Emollient
  • Tegrin Lotion for Psoriasis
  • Tegrin Medicated Cream Shampoo
  • Tegrin Medicated Shampoo Concentrated Gel
  • Tegrin Medicated Shampoo Extra Conditioning Formula
  • Tegrin Medicated Shampoo Herbal Formula
  • Tegrin Medicated Shampoo Original Formula
  • Tegrin Medicated Soap for Psoriasis
  • Tegrin Skin Cream for Psoriasis
  • Tersa-Tar Soapless Tar Shampoo
  • T/Gel Therapeutic Conditioner
  • T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
  • Theraplex T Shampoo
  • Zetar Emulsion
  • Zetar Medicated Antiseborrheic Shampoo

In Canada—

  • Alphosyl
  • Balnetar
  • Denorex
  • Doak Oil
  • Doak Oil Forte
  • Estar
  • Lavatar
  • Liquor Carbonis Detergens
  • Pentrax Extra-Strength Therapeutic Tar Shampoo
  • Psorigel
  • Tar Doak
  • Tarpaste
  • Tersa-Tar Mild Therapeutic Shampoo with Protein and Conditioner
  • Tersa-Tar Therapeutic Shampoo
  • T-Gel
  • Zetar Emulsion
  • Zetar Shampoo

Category

  • Antipsoriatic, topical
  • Antiseborrheic
  • Keratolytic, topical

Description

Coal tar is used to treat eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and other skin disorders.

Some of these preparations are available only with your doctor's prescription. Others are available without a prescription; however, your doctor may have special instructions on the proper use of coal tar for your medical condition.

Coal tar is available in the following dosage forms:

  • Topical
  • Cleansing bar (U.S.)
  • Cream (U.S. and Canada)
  • Gel (U.S. and Canada)
  • Lotion (U.S. and Canada)
  • Ointment (U.S. and Canada)
  • Shampoo (U.S. and Canada)
  • Topical solution (U.S. and Canada)
  • Topical suspension (U.S. and Canada)

Before Using This Medicine

If you are using this medicine without a prescription, carefully read and follow any precautions on the label. For coal tar, the following should be considered:

Allergies—Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to coal tar or to any other tar. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as preservatives or dyes.

Pregnancy—Studies on effects in pregnancy have not been done in either humans or animals.

Breast-feeding—It is not known whether coal tar passes into the breast milk. However, this medicine has not been reported to cause problems in nursing babies.

Children—Coal tar products should not be used on infants, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Studies on this medicine have been done only in adult patients, and there is no specific information comparing use of this medicine in children with use in other age groups.

Older adults—Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of this medicine in the elderly with use in other age groups.

Other medicines—Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your health care professional if you are using any other topical prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine that is to be applied to the same area of the skin.

Proper Use of This Medicine

Use this medicine only as directed . Do not use more of it and do not use it more often than recommended on the label, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.

After applying coal tar, protect the treated area from direct sunlight and do not use a sunlamp for 72 hours , unless otherwise directed by your doctor, since a severe reaction may occur. Also, make sure you have removed all the coal tar medicine from your skin before you go back into direct sunlight or use a sunlamp.

Do not apply this medicine to infected, blistered, raw, or oozing areas of the skin .

Keep this medicine away from the eyes . If you should accidentally get some in your eyes, flush them thoroughly with water at once.

To use the cream or ointment form of this medicine:

  • Apply enough medicine to cover the affected area, and rub in gently.

To use the gel form of this medicine:

  • Apply enough gel to cover the affected area, and rub in gently. Allow the gel to remain on the affected area for 5 minutes, then remove excess gel by patting with a clean tissue.

To use the shampoo form of this medicine:

  • Wet the scalp and hair with lukewarm water. Apply a generous amount of shampoo and rub into the scalp, then rinse. Apply the shampoo again, working up a rich lather, and allow to remain on the scalp for 5 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly.

To use the nonshampoo liquid form of this medicine:

  • Some of these preparations are to be applied directly to dry or wet skin, some are to be added to lukewarm bath water, and some may be applied directly to dry or wet skin or added to lukewarm bath water. Make sure you know exactly how you should use this medicine. If you have any questions about this, check with your health care professional.
  • If this medicine is to be applied directly to the skin, apply enough to cover the affected area, and rub in gently.
  • Some of these preparations contain alcohol and are flammable. Do not use near heat, near open flame, or while smoking.

Dosing—The dose of coal tar will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label . The following information includes only the average doses of coal tar. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

  • For eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and other skin disorders:
    • For cleansing bar dosage form:
      • Adults—Use one or two times a day, or as directed by your doctor.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For cream dosage form:
      • Adults—Apply to the affected area(s) of the skin up to four times a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For gel dosage form:
      • Adults—Apply to the affected area(s) of the skin one or two times a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For lotion dosage form:
      • Adults—Apply directly to the affected area(s) of the skin or use as a bath, hand or foot soak, or as a hair rinse, depending on the product.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For ointment dosage form:
      • Adults—Apply to the affected area(s) of the skin two or three times a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For shampoo dosage form:
      • Adults—Use once a day to once a week or as directed by your doctor.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For topical solution dosage form:
      • Adults—Apply to wet the skin or scalp, or use as a bath, depending on the product.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For topical suspension dosage form:
      • Adults—Use as a bath.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Missed dose—If you miss a dose of this medicine, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage—To store this medicine:

  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Store away from heat and direct light.
  • Keep the medicine from freezing.
  • Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed. Be sure that any discarded medicine is out of the reach of children.

Precautions While Using This Medicine

If this medicine is used on the scalp, it may temporarily discolor blond, bleached, or tinted hair.

Coal tar may stain the skin or clothing . Avoid getting it on your clothing. The stain on the skin will wear off after you stop using the medicine.

Side Effects of This Medicine

In animal studies, coal tar has been shown to increase the chance of skin cancer.

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if either of the following side effects occurs:

Rare

Skin irritation not present before use of this medicine; skin rash

Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. However, check with your health care professional if the following side effect continues or is bothersome:

More common

Stinging (mild)—especially for gel and solution dosage forms

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your health care professional.

Revised: 06/03/1994

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