How does coal tar work?

Coal tar is a dark viscous liquid formed during the process of coal distillation. It has been used as a traditional topical medicine for centuries and is still widely used in modern medicine to treat various skin conditions. This substance contains numerous chemicals that work together with surprising efficacy, yet many people are not entirely sure how coal tar works.

What is Coal Tar?

Before we discuss how coal tar works, let’s briefly explain what it actually is. As previously mentioned, coal tar is produced when coal undergoes a destructive distillation process at high temperatures- basically meaning it’s heated very strongly and the byproducts collected from cooling off; then it condenses into a thick sticky oil known as ‘coal tar’.

Have you ever thought about all those horrible chemical compounds derived from crude oil? Well now bedazzled millennials can have nightmares about one more thing!

The tar found in these materials tends to stick around on skin – which may sound unpleasant until realizing that this adhesive property helps medication to remain on the treatment area so developers do add some flavoring (also artificial) to make folks want that next application…

Types of Coal Tars

There are two types of coal tars: crude and refined. Crude or raw coaltar has most of its impurities intact after being distilled while refined – yes you guessed right- refines out said unwanted substances like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons(PAHs), carcinogenic agents that come bundled along…Yay!


Crude vs refined aside, regardless ,most commercial coaltars contain over thousands different chemcials including Carcinogens but beyond these headline-making ingredients there are also antibacterial or keratolytic properties making them useful treatments for psoriasis, eczema or dandruff induced dermatitis

How does Coal-Tar help reduce symptoms associated with these diseases ?

Our skin has a natural protective barrier, which serves as a barrier to protect us from environmental agents such as pollution or bacteria When our skin gets damaged due to intense dryness or inflammation It becomes more susceptible to irritants and itches up leading further damage like scratching etc
This is especially true for us derma-flakes prone Dandruff carriers. Coal-tar works in various ways
1) Relieves some of the symptoms via its Anti-Inflammatory , Antipruritic properties respectively also helping suppress immune system related pathways in the process
2) Reduces scales by slowing down cell growth (keratolytic effects)
3) Antibacterial Properties that target That one bad bacterium causing all infection if used regularly – this property may not be consistent across tar patches but shows potential

So just slather it on!

What are some common diseases treated with Coal-Tar?

For those asking what conditions coal-tar usually treats, Here’s a non-exhaustive list:

  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema/atopic dermatitis + Seborrhoeic Dermatitis / Sebopsoriasis
  • Dandruff/ Scalp Dermatitis (severe cases usually needs prescription strength shampoos containing higher dosages than typical OTC ones), clogged hair follicles : Folliculitis Barbae
  • Acne/rosacea/mild outbreaks of Lichenified plaque.
    Be sure to check package inserts for instructions and warnings.

Formulation Varieties:

Coal Tar comes in many forms including ointments, creams, lotions sprays and shampoo formulations. Whereas Creams/oitnments have greater emollient benefits they can get greasier thus requiring bundling up before usage.

Table time!!!

Form Advantages
Shampoo Quick duration Required less handling & easier washing off-
Great for scalp psoriasis
Lotions/Creams/Ointments More moisturizing long-term efficacy & potency (Based on Percentage of coal tar) but may feel greasier on skin
Gels Dries up quickly and leaves no residue

What, so you’re saying there’s a product to suit everyone’s needs? And choice ? Hooray!!!

What are some common side effects of using Coal-Tar?

Prolonged use can lead to:
– Skin irritation
– A burning feeling upon application
– Photosensitivity(Increased sensitivity to sunburn)
– Staining clothing or other day-to-day objects

Quick note: Although Negative reports include potential degradation + calcification in the eye-cornea when accidentally applied therefore caution is advised.

In extreme cases when toxic overdose has occured which may arise from ingesting even small amounts OR where one isn’t able to avoid lengthy exposure, CNS-related symptoms such as tremors and seizures have also been reported – this would take a special sort of curiosity!

Precautions While Using Coal Tar Products.

We’ve all heard too much about how excessive usage leads stronger infections that become resistant towards the medication .. Hence it’s important to follow these basic guidelines while using any form of coal-tar products.
1) Read package directions carefully.
2) Don’t exceed prescribed dosage or frequency specified
3) Be wary if exposing treated areas under UV radiation/sun light; apply suitable sunscreen protection(or tanning oil If your stars-aligning)
4) Avoid touching healthy Skin with Cream/Lotion applied hand!
5)NEVER ever share your coaltar lotion with anyone else unless exactly similar conditions exist(of course iff allowed by doctor).
Coal-Tar tends make bedding/laundry more prone staining.
You don’t want an embarrassing Halloween costume do you?

So there you have it, some fundamental precautions to keep in mind while using coal-tar products.

Final Thoughts

Coal tar has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of skin conditions.Through its various chemical components that contribute towards Anti-Inflammatory and Antipruritic properties or targeting bacteria causing infections (albeit, possibly inconsistent)- Coal-Tar mostly operates by slowing down cell growth responsible for irritating symptoms.
Though Must-Dos such as cautioning when exposed under Sun or avoiding touching treated areas with healthy skin may sound like no-brainers but these small steps can go a long way in ensuring the effectiveness of any medical treatment is not injured product misuse!
Does it always work? Naaahh! But with all the choices available we’re sure excited about trying them out -hopefully those seeking back-woods shark oil remedies are quaking in their boots …

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