Coal Tar for Topical Steroid Withdrawal – Does it work? Evidence is Needed

Coal Tar is being used as an anecdotal solution for its potential role in managing Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW), but there is minimal evidence of its efficacy. Coal tar is a thick, black liquid that is produced when coal is burned. It has been used for centuries as a roofing material and for paving roads. Today, it is being used as an ingredient in some creams and shampoos as treatments for the skin and scalp. TSW is a complex illness and more research is required around the efficacy of Coal Tar.

Topical steroid withdrawal is a complex health phenomena that can be described as a series of symptoms associated with the gradual or abrupt cessation of topical corticosteroid use. Symptoms of TSW can include red, itchy, and inflamed skin, as well as fatigue, anxiety, and depression. There is no known cure for TSW, but throughout Facebook groups and online communities, some people are suggesting that Coal Tar can help to relieve the symptoms. Please keep reading before you attempt to use Coal Tar to assist with Topical Steroid Withdrawal.


Coal Tar for Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema and Psoriasis are the most common underlying skin conditions of people with Topical Steroid Withdrawal. Although it is difficult to separate the symptoms of TSW from Eczema and Psoriasis, communities online are suggesting the use of Coal Tar to potentially improve their symptoms.


What is Coal Tar?

Coal Tar is a thick black liquid produced by the distillation of bituminous coal. It contains benzene, naphthalene, phenols, aniline, and many other organic chemicals. Coal Tar is a byproduct of the combustion of coal and other fossil fuels. It is a black, sticky substance that has a strong, unpleasant odor.


What are the benefits of Coal Tar for Eczema?

Coal Tar is a natural product with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It may be effective in treating eczema by reducing redness and scaling. Coal Tar may also help to prevent infection and reduce the risk of flares. There is a small risk of skin irritation with Coal Tar products. If you experience any irritation, stop using the product and consult your doctor.


Can Coal Tar help with psoriasis?

Coal Tar has been used to treat psoriasis and other skin conditions for centuries. Coal Tar works by slowing the growth of skin cells, reducing inflammation, and relieving itchiness. If you are using Coal Tar to treat psoriasis, it is also important to avoid using other products that may irritate the skin, such as perfumes, lotions or detergents. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about using Coal Tar.


How is Coal Tar used for eczema and psoriasis?


Coal Tar is available in over-the-counter (OTC) preparations and as a prescription medication. Coal Tar products may be found in over-the-counter shampoos, creams and ointments. Follow the instructions on the product packaging. When using any product that contains Coal Tar, be sure to follow the instructions on the label. Here are some general tips:

  • Apply the product to the affected area and surrounding skin.
  • Gently massage it into your skin.
  • Do not apply Coal Tar over large areas of your body.
  • Wash your hands after applying the product.
  • If you’re using a shampoo that contains Coal Tar, leave it on your scalp for five to 10 minutes before rinsing it out.
  • Avoid getting the product in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Do not use Coal Tar products on open wounds.


It typically takes two to four weeks of daily treatment with Coal Tar before you see an improvement in your eczema or psoriasis symptoms. However, it’s important to keep using Coal Tar even after your symptoms have cleared up to help prevent them from coming back.

When using Coal Tar products, it is important to avoid contact with the eyes and mucous membranes. If contact does occur, rinse immediately with water. Coal Tar makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Avoid prolonged sun exposure and use sunscreen when outdoors.

Most people may use Coal Tar products without experiencing any side effects. But some people may have skin irritation, redness, or a burning sensation where they applied the product. If this happens, stop using the product.

A small number of people may develop an allergy to Coal Tar. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include hives, itching, and difficulty breathing. If you have any of these symptoms after using a Coal Tar product, stop using the product.

Coal Tar products are generally safe when used as directed. However, they may cause some side effects, including:

  • Skin irritation
  • Dryness
  • Redness
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Itching

If you experience any of these side effects, stop using the product.

In rare cases,Coal Tar products may cause more serious side effects, such as:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Hair loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

If you experience any of these side effects, stop using the product and seek medical attention immediately. Coal tar products are not recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor before using Coal Tar products if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

You may need to try a few different Coal Tar products before you find one that works for you. And it may take several weeks of treatment before you see results.


coal tar for topical steriod withdrawal


Does Coal Tar help with Topical Steroid Withdrawal?

Coal Tar has not been specifically studied or proven to assist in people with topical steroid withdrawal (TSW). Although anecdotally, some people suggest it may help with TSW, we are collecting information to understand if there is a trend of success with Coal Tar.

Topical Steroid Withdrawal is a highly complex health condition caused by an adverse reaction to the cessation of prescribed steroid creams. Because TSW is an iatrogenic illness, currently there is no known cure, standardized medical treatment, or support for sufferers. Many people suffering with Topical Steroid Withdrawal are turning to online groups and Facebook forums to try an array of products, therapies and solutions to manage their inflammation of their skin during this withdrawal period from topical steroids. The challenge we are seeing is that there is no tracking of the efficacy of Coal Tar and other anecdotal solutions.

At TSW Assist, we are aiming to discover the collective efficacy of anecdotal recommendations from the TSW community. We hope to identify trending solutions that may be helpful in assisting with the symptoms experienced during topical steroid withdrawal.

Learn more about the crowd-sourced solutions and treatments for topical steroid withdrawal that are trending as helpful.


More research is required to understand the benefits of Coal Tar for TSW

If you are considering using Coal Tar for Topical Steroid Withdrawal, it is important to understand that more research is needed to understand its efficacy. Although some people may have success with Coal Tar in treating their eczema or psoriasis, further clinical studies are required for TSW.

Through the TSW Assist website, we hope to share crowd-sourced information on the efficacy or inefficacy of Coal Tar in helping TSW, as well as other solutions that may help.

If you are unsure, please speak to a healthcare professional before using Coal Tar for topical steroid withdrawal.



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