Coal Tar, also known and sold under the trade names of Betatar Gel, Denorex, DHS Tar, Fototar and many others, is a product which belongs to a group of drugs called keratoplastics.
It is used in the treatment of itching/scaling/flaking caused by skin conditions like psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. It is considered to work by causing the skin to shed dead skin cells from its top layer and slow down the growth process of skin cells.
This effect decreases scaling and dryness. Coal Tar is also used in the treatment of other types of rashes – e.g. eczema, atopic dermatitis, and chronic exudative dermatitis.
This product is available in many forms – liquid, shampoo, lotion, solution, cream, gel/jelly, soap, kit, ointment, bar, foam, and emulsion.
2 What to Know Before Using
Before the decision to start the treatment with this product is made, it is important to get informed about the expected beneficial effects, as well as about the possible side effects and potential risks. For the decision to be made, the beneficial effects must outweigh the potential risks.
This is a decision that you and your doctor, together, will have to make. During the consultations with your doctor, it is essential to inform the doctor about:
Allergies – Inform the doctor about any allergic reactions to any kind od medication, prescribed or no prescribed. Also, inform the healthcare professional about any allergic reactions to any specific kind of food, dye, fabric and etc.
Pediatric – There are no studies done that would confirm the safety of this medication to be used within pediatric patients. Because of this, it should be used only in cases where the beneficial effects outweigh the potential risks.
Geriatric – There are no studies that would confirm the safety of this medication to be used within geriatric patients. Because of this, it should be used only when the beneficial effects outweigh the potential risks.
Pregnancy – Inform the doctor if you are currently pregnant or have any plans about pregnancy in the near future. This is important because there are no studies that would confirm the safety of this medication to be used during pregnancy. It is unknown how would it affect the infant. Because of this, it should be used only in cases where the beneficial effects outweigh the potential risks.
Breastfeeding – Inform the doctor if you are currently breastfeeding. This medication should not be used within nursing mothers because of the studies which show that there is a minimal risk to the infant when this medication is used within nursing mothers.
Drug interactions – Inform the doctor if you are currently using any other medications, prescribed or no prescribed, even vitamins and herbal tea. This is important because certain medications should not be used in a combination with others. But, sometimes the doctor may decide to treat your condition with a certain type of combination including two or more medications, if he or she considers that combination to prove as beneficial regarding your condition.
Other interactions – Certain medications should not be used in a combination with certain type of food, alcohol and/or tobacco. Because of this, it is important to get informed if there is a need for you to follow a specific type of diet, and discontinue your use of tobacco and/or alcohol.
Other medical problems – Inform the doctor about your medical history, any other medical problems and conditions from the past or at the moment.
3 Proper Usage
For proper use, follow the directions given by your doctor. This medication is for external use only, so do not apply it into the eyes, nose, mouth, groin, or rectum. Wash your hands before and after every application. Apply a small amount of the medication to the affected area and massage it gently so that the medication gets absorbed in the skin.
If you are treating the scalp with this product, wet the scalp before, and after that massage the scalp gently. The dose is individual for every patient, prescribed by the doctor and based on your condition and the prognosis of the treatment.
Usually, this product is applied 1 to 4 times a day. Use this product regularly to get the most beneficial effects from its use. If you forget to use it, apply it as soon as you remember. Do not double to catch up.
This product is harmful if swallowed. If swallowing is suspected, contact the doctor right away for further directions.
4 Precautions to Take
Visit your doctor at your scheduled appointments so that he or she would be able to track your condition and make any adjustments if necessary. These adjustments may refer to the dose – the doctor may decide to increase or decrease it, or to the treatment itself – the doctor may decide to discontinue the treatment if there are any serious side effects present or your condition does not improve, or worsens.
Inform the doctor about any allergic reaction to any kind of medication, prescribed or no prescribed. This is important because this product may contain inactive substances that could cause certain interactions to occur.
Inform the doctor if you are currently pregnant. The doctor may decide not to treat you with this product, due to the lack of studies that would confirm the safety of this medication to be used during pregnancy.
If you have any plans about pregnancy in the near future, the doctor will probably advise you to start using a proven form of birth control to help prevent pregnancy during the treatment.
Inform the doctor if you are currently breastfeeding. The doctor will probably decide not to treat you with this medication, due to the studies that show the minimal risk to the infant during the treatment with this product.
This product may increase your sensitivity to the sun. Make sure to wear protective clothing and apply sun cream before you expose to the sun.
5 Potential Side Effects
Along with its needed beneficial effects, there are possible side effects that could appear. These side effects do not appear within all patients, also they could be mild or more serious.
Based on the side effects, the doctor may decide to discontinue your treatment if there are any serious side effects. It is essential to get informed about the possible side effects, so that you would be able to notice their presence and inform the doctor as soon as possible.
Common side effects – skin/scalp irritation, or staining of the skin/hair – these are common side effects which are not considered to be serious. But, if they persist or worsen, inform the doctor right away.
A very serious allergic reaction to this product is rare, but if you notice any of the following symptoms, inform the doctor as soon as possible – skin rash, itching/swelling of the hands, feet, face, tongue, trouble breathing, or severe dizziness.
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