Traditional coal tar is one of those old-fashioned remedies that, like psoriasis itself, never seems to go away. It was a staple in the medicine lockers of chemists in the early days of the modern pharmacy industry and has been used to treat itchy, flaky skin conditions for hundreds of years.
It’s still used for that purpose today, in particular psoriasis and dandruff, and can be found in very small quantities in commercially made medicinal shampoos and skin creams. It’s an unattractive and somewhat smelly substance ; a dark, sticky, syrupy by-product of the coal coking process which uses incredibly high temperatures to release gas from coking coal. The manufacturing process is just as unappealing as the way coal tar looks however, as we know in health care, looks aren’t everything.
Scientists aren’t exactly sure how traditional coal tar works, however it repeatedly demonstrates antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-itch, and antiparasitic properties when applied topically and has been used widely to treat skin conditions in western countries since the 1800s. The World Health Organisation has it included it on their List of Essential Medicines.
Some people report skin irritation, skin discolouration and sun sensitivity after long-term use of coal tar so it’s important to be aware of these side effects if you’re considering its use. In addition, formulations containing more than five percent coal tar are listed as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization. Coal tar contains over 10,000 different compounds and studies have shown that some of these compounds, individually, may increase the risk of some cancers – typically when ingested or inhaled over a lifetime.
National Custom Compounding can supply traditional coal tar in its basic form for people suffering from dry itchy skin conditions like psoriasis and dandruff. For more information call us on 1300 731 755 or send an email to [email protected].