OverviewTar soap is a natural remedy thought to have powerful antiseptic abilities. It’s often used to treat skin conditions, like psoriasis and eczema.
Types of tar soapTar soap is sometimes recommended to relieve psoriasis symptoms, like itching, inflammation, and scaling. The two types of tar soap used to treat psoriasis are pine tar soap and coal tar soap. Pine tar soap is made from pine tree resins and has a strong pine scent. It’s still used by some people to treat psoriasis, but doctors who support tar soap as a treatment are more likely to recommend coal tar soap. Coal tar is a distillation byproduct of coal processing. It’s made of thousands of compounds that may vary depending on preparation.
Historical use of tar soapCoal tar has been used to treat skin conditions since ancient times. For over 100 years, it has been used to treat psoriasis. In the past, over-the-counter (OTC) coal tar soap contained coal tar byproducts, like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Today, true coal tar soap is hard to get without a prescription. You can still buy pine tar soap that contains pine tar and pine tar oils without a prescription. Some brands for sale today have been in production since the 1800s and use the same formula. Shop for pine tar soap online.
Effectiveness of tar soapThe goal of psoriasis treatment is to slow the growth of skin cells to reduce inflammation and plaque formation, and remove scales. Coal tar soap might be helpful in reducing scaling, itching, and inflammation. It has few side effects, although exactly how it works isn’t clear. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, coal tar helps slow skin cell growth and improves skin’s appearance. Coal tar treatments may be combined with other therapies, like topical corticosteroids or ultraviolet B light. The Goeckerman regimen is a therapy that combines coal tar and ultraviolet light. It’s considered to be effective for relieving moderate to severe psoriasis symptoms. But the treatment isn’t right for everyone. Goeckerman requires daily sessions for up to four weeks and can be messy. An evidence-based review published in the
Safety concerns of tar soapCoal tar soap is generally well-tolerated, but it may cause unpleasant side effects:
- skin irritation or redness
- sensitivity to sunlight
Other psoriasis treatmentsIn addition to tar soap, other OTC treatments are available. Most OTC psoriasis treatments are used to moisturize and soothe skin, remove scales, and relieve itching. These include:
- aloe vera
- zinc pyrithione
- oilated oatmeal
- Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts
- anti-itch products such as [Affiliate link:] calamine, hydrocortisone, camphor, and menthol
When to speak with your doctorTalk to your doctor before using tar soap to treat psoriasis. They can give you tips on how much soap to use and how often. If you experience the symptoms of an allergic reaction while using tar soap, seek medical help immediately. Those symptoms may include:
- difficulty breathing
- chest tightness