The Facts About Coal Tar: What’s It Used In And Is It Safe?

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Coal Tar Cream
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Coal tar is known as a keratoplastic drug, and is sometimes suggested to treat the skin when suffering from itching, scaling, and flaking. It is considered a suitable medication to treat conditions including psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis.

It causes the skin to shed it’s top layer of  dead cells while slowing down the growth of new skin cells. This reduces itchiness, scaling and dryness.

Dry Skin
Dry Skin

What Is Coal Tar Found In?

Coal tar crops up in age ingredients list for some shampoos, scalp treatments, soaps, hair dyes, and lotions.

When looking at the label be aware of the following:

  • Coal tar solution
  • Tar
  • Coal
  • Carbo-cort
  • Coal tar solution
  • Coal tar solution USP
  • Crude coal tar
  • Estar
  • Impervotar
  • KC 261
  • Lavatar
  • Picis carbonis
  • Naphtha
  • High solvent naphtha
  • Naphtha distillate
  • Benzin B70
  • Petroleum benzin

What Foods Contain Coal Tar?

Coal tar can be used as a food dye.  Artificial coloring agents are made by combining hydrocarbons including toluene, xylene, and benzene, which are obtained from the distillation of bituminous coal. It is not generally obvious when coal tar dyes are used, so be sure to check the ingredients list.

 

Is It Safe To Use Coal Tar Products?

Coal tar has been used for many years – long before steroids were readily available to treat dry skin conditions. Therefore lots of people feel that worries about it’s safety are largely unfounded. It is very cheap to use, and obviously avoids the steroid related side effects of alternative topical ointments.

The FDA considers 0.5 to 5% OTC coal tar preparations safe for psoriasis.

EWG’s Skindeep Database gives Coal Tar a hazard rating of 10 out of 10, with 10 being the most hazardous!

Benzopyrene, one of the compounds within coal tar, has been found to be carcinogenic through skin exposure, which makes these products a particular cancer concern.

Studies have also found that exposure to coal tar produces skin tumors. In addition, it has been linked to cancer of the lung, bladder, kidney and digestive tract, with some instances of skin cancer being reported amongst individuals using coal tar products.

There are also concerns regarding toxic damage to the organs and neurological system. Loss of co-ordination, sleep and emotional disturbances have been linked to coal tar usage.

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