Coal Tar

Coal Tar Brand Names

Balnetar | Cutar | Doak Tar | Fototar | Ionil T | Ionil T Plus | Oxipor VHC Psoriasis | Pentrax | Psorigel | Reme-T | Scytera | Sebutone | Tarsum | Tera-Gel | Therapeutic Shampoo | Theraplex T | X-Seb T | Zetar

What is Coal Tar

Coal tar is indicated for the symptomatic management of pruritus and irritation caused by dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis.

Treatment with coal tar and UV light or sunlight can be beneficial because of its photosensitizing action.

Official USP coal tar preparations include crude coal tar, coal tar topical solution, and coal tar ointment.

Crude coal tar is produced as a byproduct secondary to the destructive distillation of coal, and it can be further refined into coal tar topical solution or ointment.

Commercially available preparations that are not officially recognized by USP and do not have specifications for composition include coal tar extract and distillate.

Application of crude coal tar preparations may be aesthetically displeasing to the patient; however, further refined products are believed by many clinicians to be therapeutically inferior.

It has been suggested that the variability in refining processes may be responsible for differences in therapeutic response to coal tar preparations.

Coal tar was in use prior to 1938 and approved by the FDA at its inception.


  1. atopic dermatitis
  2. eczema
  3. psoriasis
  4. seborrheic dermatitis

For the treatment of atopic dermatitis, dandruff, eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis

Side Effects

  1. contact dermatitis
  2. folliculitis

Prolonged periods of coal tar application can result in dermatitis that can be severe. A contact dermatitis can develop, with the latter increasing in severity with increasing concentrations of the drug.

Application of coal tar over an extended period can result in an asymptomatic, chronic folliculitis.

This reaction generally subsides following discontinuance of treatment or reduction in the frequency of application. The occurrence of folliculitis can be reduced by: avoiding application to areas with hair, if possible; shortening treatment length; and avoiding occlusion of treated areas.

Monitoring Parameters

  • laboratory monitoring not necessary


  • breast-feeding
  • pregnancy
  • skin abrasion
  • sunlight (UV) exposure


There are no drug interactions associated with Coal Tar products.


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