What is coal tar topical?

Coal tar is a by-product of coal processing.

Coal tar topical (for the skin) is used to treat the skin symptoms of psoriasis, including dryness, redness, flaking, scaling, and itching. Coal tar is not a cure for psoriasis, and it will provide only temporary relief of skin symptoms.

Coal tar may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.


You should not use this medication if you are allergic to coal tar.

Before using coal tar, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you are receiving ultraviolet radiation treatment for your psoriasis.

This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether coal tar passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Coal tar products may contain lanolin, mineral oil, or other emulsifiers. Check the label of any coal tar product you are using. Talk with your doctor before using coal tar if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.

Avoid getting this medication in your eyes. If this does occur, rinse with water.

Do not use coal tar to treat the skin of your groin or rectal area.

Avoid exposure to sunlight or artificial UV rays (sunlamps or tanning beds). Coal tar can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and sunburn may result.

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Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.

Symptoms of a coal tar overdose are not known.

Use the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

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Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using coal tar and call your doctor at once if you have severe stinging, burning, swelling, or other irritation of the treated skin.

Less serious side effects may include mild skin irritation or skin rash.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Do not use coal tar together with other psoriasis medications unless your doctor tells you to.

There may be other drugs that can interact with coal tar. Tell your doctor about all your prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Other Names

Alphosyl, Alphosyl 2 in 1, Amcal Anti Itch Bath Solution, Apha Keri Tar, Apha Keri Tar Gel, Balnetar, Betatar Gel, Carbo-Dome, Clinitar, Coal Tar, Coal Tar Strong, Cutar, DHS Tar Shampoo, Denorex, Denorex Dry Scalp, Denorex Extra Strength, Denorex Medicated Shampoo and Conditioner, Doak Oil Forte, Doak Tar, Doak Tar Oil, Doctar, Eczema Cream, Elta Tar, Estar, Exorex, Exorex (obsolete), Exorex Penetrating Emulsion Psoriasis Medication, Fototar, G-TAR, Hamilton Formicare Skin Wash, Hamilton Pine Tar with Menthol (obsolete), Ionil T, Ionil T Plus, Linotar, Linotar Gel 2, Linotar Gel 3, MG 217 Psoriasis, MG217 Medicated Tar, Neutrogena T-Gel Conditioner, Neutrogena T/Derm, Neutrogena T/Gel, Neutrogena T/Gel Extra Strength, Orion Coal Tar, Oxipor VHC, Pentrax, Pentrax Gold, Pinetarsol Tar, Polytar, Polytar Mild, Psoriderm, Psorigel, Resolve Itch Cleansing Gel, T/Gel (obsolete), T/Gel Conditioner, Tegrin Medicated, Tegrin Medicated Soap, Therapeutic, Theraplex T, Zeprime Tar Emulsion, Zetar, coal tar topical, PC Tar, Psoriasin, Reme-T, and Scytera

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