In its natural form coal tar is a thick, nearly black, viscous liquid with a characteristic smell. It is most often obtained in solution form (0.1 to 20%) and mixed with other ingredients, such as salicylic acid and sulphur, to make lotions, creams, ointments and shampoos. It has been used for decades to help treat the scaling, itching and inflammation of psoriasis, eczema, and other skin disorders.
Coal tar may be compounded with other ingredients to make creams, ointments, paints, pastes, gels, soaps, solutions and shampoos. Follow closely the instructions on the label on how to use your coal tar preparation. Listed below are some general tips for using coal tar products.
After reviewing 107 (and counting) shampoos (doing literally hundreds of hours of research in the process), and speaking to four board-certified dermatologists, we finally reached a conclusion on what the best coal tar shampoos are on the market today.
Washing with this shampoo is better than most coal tar shampoos. And, while no coal tar shampoo has a particularly pleasant aroma, DHS has done a good job in formulating a coal tar shampoo with a relatively decent(ish) smell.
Most shampoos aimed at treating seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis are targeted at mild to moderate cases. Sebcur-T Medicated Shampoo is different. Sebcur-T Medicated Shampoo contains a very helpful concentration of 10% coal tar solution and 4% w/w salicylic acid.
They assess the formulation of the shampoo, deconstructing the shampoos to their constituent parts and describe the key ones in detail. In addition, they highlight the presence of any one of over 100 ingredients that can potentially itch, irritate and exasperate your condition.
That said, 4% coal tar shampoos have been shown to be equally as effective as ketoconazole 2% in a study of 274 participants . Coal tar shampoos are also better tolerated, associated with less skin and eye irritation, dry skin, and itching.
To use a coal tar shampoo, you should always follow the guidance provided on the label. The label should legally inform you how often to use the shampoo and how long you should leave the shampoo on your scalp.
Although most people do not experience significant side effects, the WHO state that coal tar shampoos may cause skin irritation and on rare occasions allergic sensitization is possible. They also recommend that a coal tar shampoo should not be applied to inflamed, broken or infected skin.
Because coal tar can increase sensitivity to sunlight, skin treated with coal tar products should be protected from ultraviolet rays to avoid irritation and sunburn. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you protect your scalp from the sun by wearing a hat when outdoors and seeking shade whenever possible if you use coal tar shampoo.
Longer-term use of coal tar can cause dry skin, burning sensations or rashes, and photosensitivity. If used as a shampoo, the texture or color of hair may be altered although this is usually reversed once stopped .
Some of the controversies may be related to the questionable safety of using coal tar in the production of sealant products  and in other industrial settings; these problems are not relevant to the use of weak coal tar solutions in shampoo formulations.
The great news is that coal tar is available OTC in the USA, EU, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. The FDA maintains that coal tar concentrations between 0.5 to 5 percent are safe to use in an OTC shampoo. This means you can pop into your local pharmacist and buy a range of shampoos. Or you can purchase the shampoos via this site and help fund us!
Over the past decade, coal tar shampoos have become increasingly hard to find. The aforementioned cancer scare had a major impact as many manufacturers shied away from coal tar altogether. Even after further studies found that the links between coal tar and cancer were unfounded, there is still a shortage of manufacturers making coal tar shampoos. The pharmaceutical companies are accrediting this to two things:
That said, the coal tar market is growing, to the tune of a quarter of a billion dollars a year. Driven largely by the healthcare sector. So it looks like coal tar shampoos will be with us for many years yet!
Ketoconazole (2% shampoo) may help some patients with diffuse mild scalp psoriasis, although it is more effective inseborrhoeic dermatitis.4 It is used twice weekly and is best left on the scalp for several minutes before rinsingoff.
Coal tar/pine tar shampoos (e.g. Neutrogena T/Gel, Polytar Plus, Fongitar, Ionil-T, Sebitar) are unsubsidised but generallymore effective than ketoconazole shampoos. They are used one to two times per week (or as necessary) and are best lefton the scalp for several minutes before rinsing off.
If you use a medicated shampoo, try alternating shampoos. To avoid overly drying your scalp and hair, try using a medicated shampoo one day and a non-medicated, gentle shampoo the next time you wash your hair. Dry hair is more likely to break, which can lead to hair loss.
One trial (Draelos 2005) compared ketoconazole shampoo versus zinc pyrithione shampoo on short-term (up to four weeks) application of these treatments. On assessment, a mean erythema score of 0.111 and a standard deviation of 0.333 were recorded for 20 participants in the ketoconazole group, and in the zinc pyrithione group, both mean erythema score and standard deviation were zero for the 20 participants. Because of SDs of 0, the results could not be used in a meta-analysis. 781b155fdc