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Tar products are most frequently used for the treatment of scalp psoriasis. Tars are available as shampoos, soaps, gels, lotions, creams, ointments, and bath oils. Tar products can be used alone or with topical corticosteroids; however, the combined use can make the skin sensitive to ultra violet-A light waves (UVA). The combination treatment consisting of tar, topical corticosteroid and UVB phototherapy is a common regimen. The Goeckerman regime remains one of the most effective treatments for clearing psoriasis that involves the combination of tar with UVB.

How the treatment works

Tar slows the proliferation of skin cells and reduces inflammation, itching and scaling


  • Can be effective for treating mild-to-moderate psoriasis (especially for the scalp)
  • Available at lower concentrations without a prescription
  • Can be used alone or in a combination treatment regimen
  • Relatively inexpensive


  • Unpleasant scent and messy to use
  • Stains bedding, clothing, and gray/white hair
  • Increases skin sensitivity to the sun
  • Can cause folliculitis (infection of the hair follicles) and skin irritation
  • It is unclear at the present time if they are carcinogenic when utilized in some combination treatments

Comments & Suggestions

  • Despite unappealing aspects, such staining and odor, adherence to the recommended regimen is essential in order to achieve a satisfactory treatment outcome.
  • If you dislike the smell of coal tar, after using a tar-based shampoo, try shampooing again with a preferred brand, and use a conditioner to lessen the drying effects from cleansing.