Salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar (Topical)
Generic Name: coal tar/salicylic acid/sulfur (sal-i-SIL-ik AS-id, SUL-fur, kole tar)
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Coal Tar Derivative/Salicylate, Non-Aspirin Combination
Pharmacologic Class: NSAID
Chemical Class: Salicylate, Non-Aspirin
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 22, 2021.
Uses for salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar
Salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar combination is used to treat dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis of the scalp.
Salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar is available without a prescription.
Before using salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Young children may be at increased risk of unwanted effects because of increased absorption of salicylic acid through the skin. Medicines containing salicylic acid should not be applied to large areas of the body or used for long periods of time in infants and children.
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 salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar combination medicine in the elderly with use in other age groups.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with 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. When you are taking salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Amtolmetin Guacil
- Bismuth Subsalicylate
- Choline Magnesium Trisalicylate
- Choline Salicylate
- Ethacrynic Acid
- Flufenamic Acid
- Magnesium Salicylate
- Mefenamic Acid
- Niflumic Acid
- Nimesulide Beta Cyclodextrin
- Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium
- Phenyl Salicylate
- Salicylic Acid
- Sodium Salicylate
- Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate
- Tiaprofenic Acid
- Tolfenamic Acid
- Trolamine Salicylate
Using salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Azilsartan Medoxomil
- Candesartan Cilexetil
- Olmesartan Medoxomil
- Perindopril Erbumine
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Proper use of salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar
Use salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar only as directed. Do not use it more often than recommended on the label, unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
Keep salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar away from the eyes. If you should accidentally get some in your eyes, flush them thoroughly with water.
Before using salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar, wet the hair and scalp with lukewarm water. Then apply a generous amount to the scalp and work up a rich lather. Rub the lather into the scalp for 5 minutes, then rinse. Apply the medicine again and rinse thoroughly.
Immediately after using salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar, wash your hands to remove any medicine that may be on them.
The dose of salicylic acid, sulfur, and 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 salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis of the scalp:
- For cream shampoo and lotion shampoo dosage forms:
- Adults and children—Use on the scalp one or two times a week.
- For cream shampoo and lotion shampoo dosage forms:
If you miss a dose of salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar, 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.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Precautions while using salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar
Do not use any topical mercury-containing preparation, such as ammoniated mercury ointment, on the same affected area as salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar . To do so may cause a foul odor, may be irritating to the skin, and may stain the skin black. If you have any questions about this, check with your health care professional.
Salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar may temporarily discolor blond, bleached, or tinted hair.
Salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar side effects
In animal studies, coal tar (contained in this combination medicine) 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 any of the following side effects occur:
- Skin irritation not present before use of salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.