Dermatology (Skin conditions)

Strong Coal Tar or Tar Pomade

Contact: 0191 282 4485 - Dermatology Outpatients

Strong coal tar and tar pomade are products made by pharmacy. This information will explain the use of these treatments for psoriasis.

The benefit of tar treatments for psoriasis is to loosen skin flakes, reduce inflammation and slow the production of new skin cells, which are reproducing too quickly in psoriasis.

Strong coal tar comes in three strengths, which are 1%, 2.5% and 5%. The lowest strength is used first and if tolerated for a week the strength is increased and so on until 5% is used. Sometimes tar pomade is prescribed instead and it comes in one strength only. Which ever ointment is prescribed it should be applied one to two times a day to areas of psoriasis on the arms, legs, front and back. Tar should not be used in the genital area or face (unless instructed by the dermatologist) as it may cause irritation.

What are the side effects?
One of the side effects may be irritation of the skin, if this occurs reduce the strength you are using. If irritation occurs when you are using the lowest strength of coal tar or using the tar pomade stop the treatment and contact dermatology outpatients to arrange a review appointment (telephone numbers below).

Tar products can be messy and smelly. It may be useful to wear old clothes after application. Sometimes we use special bandages made from cotton to stop the tar getting
onto your clothes.

Tar treatments also dry the skin so it is important to use a moisturiser in between times to keep your skin comfortable and moisturised.

Tar treatments can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight so it is important to cover up with clothes, use a sunscreen and a hat if you are in the sun.

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