What Ingredients in Psoriasis Shampoo Make It Effective?

Many varieties of scalp psoriasis shampoo are available over the counter. Here are some to purchase online.

If you have severe scalp psoriasis, you may be able to get a stronger, prescription-strength shampoo from a dermatologist.

These shampoos contain special ingredients that work quickly to reduce the itching, scaling, swelling, and redness caused by scalp psoriasis. Some shampoos contain one main ingredient, while others may include several. Each main ingredient can help reduce specific scalp psoriasis symptoms.

Coconut oil and coal tar, for example, are good at moisturizing and reducing itchiness. Salicylic acid can soften hard scales, while clobetasol propionate is good for severe scalp psoriasis.

Coal tar

Coal tar is a dark, thick liquid that can reduce the itchiness of scalp psoriasis. It may help to use coal tar shampoo as often as once a day and as little as once a week.

The frequency depends on the severity of your psoriasis and the strength of the shampoo. A doctor can suggest how often you should use it.

Coal tar is a powerful ingredient. You should not use coal tar on infants. Avoid direct sunlight after applying coal tar, and avoid using a sunlamp for 72 hours to prevent possible skin damage.

Do not apply coal tar shampoo to parts of the skin that appear infected, blistered, raw, or oozing. Keep coal tar shampoo away from your eyes.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is not a proven treatment of scalp psoriasis. However, it can help reduce the symptoms of itchiness, dryness, and inflammation caused by this condition. Coconut oil contains healthy fats that can restore moisture to skin and improve its appearance.


Sulfur is an ingredient that can help slough off the scales associated with scalp psoriasis. This can make it easier for other chemicals and moisture to access the skin and helps reduce symptoms.

When using scalp psoriasis shampoo to remove scales from your scalp, be gentle. Do not rub, scrub or scratch your scalp, as this can worsen your symptoms.

Clobetasol propionate

Clobetasol propionate can be found in prescription-strength scalp psoriasis shampoos. This ingredient is a topical steroid that can reduce all the symptoms of scalp psoriasis, including redness, dryness, and swelling. It can also help you more easily remove some of the scaling from your scalp, face or neck.

Salicylic acid

Sometimes the scaly buildup of scalp psoriasis can become quite thick. This can make it hard for your scalp psoriasis treatment to be absorbed into your skin and reduces its effectiveness.

Salicylic acid can soften thick patches of skin, making treatment easier.


Shampoos containing ketoconazole are most often used to treat dandruff, another condition that can cause skin flaking on the scalp. It also appears effective in reducing the inflammation caused by scalp psoriasis, and may also prevent infection.

Blue lagoon algae

Blue Lagoon algae is a small plant that grows in seawater in Iceland. According to research, it appears that algae may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin.

Using shampoos that contain algae may reduce the redness, swelling and irritation caused by scalp psoriasis.

Zinc pyrithione

Zinc pyrithione is an ingredient commonly found in dandruff shampoos. While it’s considered very effective at treating dandruff, there’s also evidence that it may effectively treat scalp psoriasis.

Zinc pyrithione can help normalize the way skin cells grow and work, and also moisturize the scalp. This can reduce flaking and scale buildup.

10 Best Coal Tar Shampoos To Get Rid Of Psoriasis And Seborrhoeic Dermatitis Pooja Karkala Hyderabd040-395603080 December 13, 2019

Troubled by serious issues such as seborrhoeic dermatitis or psoriasis? Are they giving you dandruff and making your scalp itch? Are you looking for the best possible solution to tackle these issues? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place.

Have you ever heard of coal tar shampoos? Coal tar is a byproduct of the carbonization and gasification of coal. It is found in many hair care products like shampoos, soaps, and gels. Coal tar is a keratolytic agent that prevents rapid multiplication of epidermal cells. Therefore, it serves as an elixir for dry, scaly, flaky, and itchy scalp conditions due to its antiseptic and disinfectant properties. Here are the 10 best coal tar shampoos available on the market right now.

Products Check Price
Neutrogena T/Gel Extra Strength Therapeutic Shampoo Check Price
PsoriaTrax Psoriasis Relief Anti-Dandruff Tar Shampoo Check Price
MG217 Psoriasis Medicated Coal Tar Shampoo Check Price
Art Naturals Scalp 18 Medicated Coal Tar Shampoo Check Price
Denorex Maximum Itch Relief Dandruff Shampoo Conditioner Check Price
DHS Tar Shampoo Check Price
Alphosyl 2 in 1 Shampoo Check Price
Polytar Scalp Coal Tar Shampoo Check Price
Redwin Dry Scalp Management Coal Tar Shampoo Check Price

10 Best Coal Tar Shampoos You Need To Try Out

1. Neutrogena T/Gel Extra Strength Therapeutic Shampoo

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo is popular for its strong formula containing Neutar technology and 1% coal tar extract that are proven to enhance scalp health. It reduces dryness, redness, and intense itching of the scalp, besides providing relief from the symptoms of chronic psoriasis, dandruff, and seborrhoeic dermatitis. This deep cleanser is certified by the National Psoriasis Foundation as an effective scalp therapy.

  • Delivers quick results
  • Long-lasting results
  • A little product goes a long way
  • Recommended by dermatologists and trichologists
  • Expensive

Back To TOC

2. PsoriaTrax Psoriasis Relief Anti-Dandruff Tar Shampoo

PsoriaTrax Anti-Dandruff Tar Shampoo is claimed to be the most effective shampoo for relieving the symptoms of psoriasis. It contains 5% coal tar and other potent ingredients that help control the symptoms of psoriasis and seborrhoeic dermatitis. It imparts strength to your roots and controls hair fall. It also improves the texture of your hair. However, this shampoo can be used only after consulting a dermatologist.

  • Heals your scalp quickly
  • Makes your hair manageable
  • Gives you soft and silky hair
  • Eliminates dandruff
  • Can dry out your scalp if used too often

Back To TOC

3. MG217 Psoriasis Medicated Coal Tar Shampoo

MG217 Psoriasis Medicated Coal Tar Shampoo helps in reducing redness, irritation, inflammation, and dryness on the scalp. It contains 3% coal tar, and it doubles up as a conditioner. It nourishes your hair, making it appear smooth and healthy. This shampoo not only controls the symptoms of psoriasis and seborrhoeic dermatitis but also prevents their recurrence.

  • Reduces flakiness
  • Mild herbal fragrance
  • Conditions dry ends
  • Adds shine to your hair
  • Moisturizes your scalp
  • Takes time to show results

Back To TOC

4. Art Naturals Scalp 18 Medicated Coal Tar Shampoo

Art Naturals Scalp 18 Medicated Coal Tar Shampoo is infused with all-natural oils and is known for its hydrating properties. Its coal tar component helps in treating a flaky and itchy scalp. It also helps in controlling the symptoms of psoriasis and eczema. This shampoo is enriched with 100% natural oils. It repairs your damaged hair and restores its health, thereby adding luster to it.

  • Gentle cleanser
  • Contains 100% natural oils
  • Exfoliates your scalp
  • Strengthens your roots
  • Cruelty- and paraben-free
  • Expensive

Back To TOC

5. Denorex Therapeutic Maximum Itch Relief Dandruff Shampoo + Conditioner

Denorex Therapeutic Maximum Itch Relief Shampoo heals your scalp and conditions your hair simultaneously. It helps in controlling severe dandruff and provides maximum strength to fight an itchy scalp. It soothes and moisturizes your scalp and reduces dryness and itching. It makes your scalp tingle while foaming, which indicates that it is working perfectly.

  • Provides maximum relief in a single-use
  • Clears build-up
  • Hydrates your scalp
  • A little product goes a long way
  • Makes your hair soft and manageable
  • Can cause a burning sensation initially
  • Expensive

Back To TOC

6. DHS Tar Shampoo

This dermatologist-recommended shampoo helps in treating dandruff, psoriasis, and seborrhoeic dermatitis. It claims to lessen the dryness, itching and flaking on your scalp in a single hair wash. It also conditions dry and damaged cuticles, leaving you with soft, silky, and shiny hair. It clears bacteria and keeps your scalp healthy and refreshed.

  • Recommended by dermatologists
  • Delivers quick results
  • Reduces dryness of scalp
  • Prevents breakage
  • Causes mild irritation
  • Expensive

Back To TOC

7. Alphosyl 2 in 1 Shampoo

The alcoholic extract of coal tar present in Alphosyl 2 in 1 Shampoo serves as an anti-scaling agent that helps treat dandruff and dryness on the scalp. This conditioning shampoo gives you soft and manageable hair in a single wash. It also strengthens your hair and promotes healthy hair growth. This medicated shampoo is recommended by dermatologists for treating psoriasis and seborrhoeic dermatitis.

  • Lathers well
  • Eliminates impurities
  • Prevents dandruff
  • Provides instant relief
  • Expensive

Back To TOC

8. Polytar Scalp Coal Tar Shampoo

Polytar Scalp Coal Tar Shampoo is an antiseptic shampoo that is widely known for treating dandruff, psoriasis, eczema, and seborrhoeic dermatitis. It eliminates flaking and reduces the drying on your scalp. It reduces inflammation instantly and keeps your scalp hydrated for hours. This formula is created for sensitive scalp and hair types. It conditions your hair while being mild on your scalp.

  • Reduces scalp infection
  • Soothes dry scalp
  • Repairs damaged hair
  • A little product goes a long way
  • Availability issues

Back To TOC

9. Equate Original Anti-Dandruff Formula Therapeutic Shampoo

Equate’s Original Therapeutic Shampoo is based on an anti-dandruff formula that provides long-lasting relief to a dry, flaky, and itchy scalp. The ingredients in this shampoo continue to work even after rinsing it off your hair. It gently cleanses your hair without stripping away its natural oils. It contains 1% coal tar that instantly soothes your scalp. It also clears dirt and residues and keeps your scalp squeaky clean.

  • Lathers well
  • Suitable for oily hair
  • Affordable
  • Unpleasant fragrance
  • Expensive

Back To TOC

10. Redwin Dry Scalp Management Coal Tar Shampoo

Redwin Coal Tar Shampoo is specially made with aloe vera and birch extracts. It moisturizes your itchy scalp, reduces flaking, and acts as a conditioner and an exfoliator. This pH-balanced formula also helps in restoring and maintaining the health of your hair and scalp. It promotes healthy hair growth and imparts noticeable shine to it. It also nourishes your hair and repairs damaged cuticles.

  • Soothes dry scalp
  • Hydrates your hair
  • Reduces breakage
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Expensive

Back To TOC

Treat your dry, scaly, and itchy scalp right away with any of these amazing coal tar shampoos and let us know about your experience in the comments section below.

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Pooja Karkala

Pooja is a Mass Communications and Psychology graduate. Her education has helped her develop the perfect balance between what the reader wants to know and what the reader has to know. As a classical dancer, she has long, black hair, and she knows the struggle that goes into maintaining it. She believes in home remedies and grandma’s secrets for achieving beautiful, luscious hair. When she is not writing, she learns Kuchipudi, practices yoga, and creates doodles.

Coal Tar Shampoo

Generic Name: Coal Tar Shampoo (kohl tar)
Brand Name: Doak Tar, Ionil T

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 18, 2019.

  • Overview
  • Side Effects
  • Interactions
  • Breastfeeding
  • Reviews
  • More

Uses of Coal Tar Shampoo:

  • It is used to treat psoriasis.
  • It is used to treat dandruff.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Coal Tar Shampoo?

  • If you have an allergy to coal tar or any other part of coal tar shampoo.
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you have lupus.
  • If your skin is sensitive to light.
  • If a large area needs to be treated.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with coal tar shampoo.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take coal tar shampoo with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Coal Tar Shampoo?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take coal tar shampoo. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • This medicine may stain fingernails, hair, and skin.
  • Protect clothing and fabrics from staining.
  • You may get sunburned more easily. Avoid sun, sunlamps, and tanning beds. Use sunscreen and wear clothing and eyewear that protects you from the sun.
  • Do not use coverings (bandages, dressings, make-up) unless told to do so by the doctor.
  • Use of other skin products while using coal tar shampoo may cause more irritation.
  • If you are getting any kind of light therapy, talk with your doctor.
  • Do not use longer than you have been told by the doctor.
  • This medicine may cause harm if swallowed. If coal tar shampoo is swallowed, call a doctor or poison control center right away.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks of using coal tar shampoo while you are pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

How is this medicine (Coal Tar Shampoo) best taken?

Use coal tar shampoo as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • Do not take coal tar shampoo by mouth. Use on your scalp and hair only. Keep out of your mouth, nose, ears, and eyes (may burn).
  • Wash your hands before and after use.
  • Wet hair and scalp.
  • Put on enough shampoo to make a lather.
  • Lather well and leave on as you have been told.
  • Rinse and put on again.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Put on a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not put on 2 doses or extra doses.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Very bad skin irritation.

What are some other side effects of Coal Tar Shampoo?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Irritation where coal tar shampoo is used.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out Coal Tar Shampoo?

  • Store at room temperature.
  • Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.

Consumer information use

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else’s drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about coal tar shampoo, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

More about coal tar topical

  • Side Effects
  • Breastfeeding
  • Drug Interactions
  • Pricing & Coupons
  • En Español
  • 19 Reviews
  • Drug class: miscellaneous topical agents

Consumer resources

  • Coal tar topical
  • Coal Tar Cream, Gel, and Ointment
  • Coal Tar Foam
  • Coal Tar Lotion
  • Coal tar Topical (Advanced Reading)

Other brands: Psoriasin, Medotar, Denorex Therapeutic Protection, DHS Tar Shampoo, … +18 more

Related treatment guides

  • Psoriasis
  • Dermatitis
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis

It’s pretty safe to say that scalp problems of any nature (itchiness, flaking, and the like), are highly annoying to anyone suffering from them. But scalp psoriasis — a common condition characterized by thick, red scaly patches of skin that can cover the entire scalp and be chronic — is arguably the most painful and inconvenient of them all. Scalp psoriasis treatment often comes in the form of oils, steroid solutions, and even ointments, but basic care for it starts in the shower with the shampoo you use. Those battling scalp psoriasis want to aim for a formula that simultaneously sloughs away flakes as it soothes irritation. New York City-based dermatologist and founder of Smarter Skin Dermatology, Sejal Shah, says that you should look for a shampoo comprised of ingredients such as coal tar, which is a dark liquid that’s a by-product of the production of coke and coal gas from coal and is used in medications to treat psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. It may sound scary, but dermatologists say it significantly helps to slow down the rapid growth of skin cells while reducing inflammation. Ahead, find Shah’s favorite shampoo picks for scalp psoriasis, as well as other expert recommendations.

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Coal tar shampoo

What is this medicine?

COAL TAR (kohl tahr) is used on the scalp to treat dandruff and other conditions including psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • inflamed, damaged or broken skin

  • an unusual or allergic reaction to coal tar, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives

  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant

  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

This medicine is for external use only. Follow the directions on the label. Wet hair. Massage shampoo into scalp. Lather and leave on hair and scalp for several minutes. Rinse and repeat. Wash hands well after use. Do not use more often than directed.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While this drug may be used on children as young as 2 years for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, use only that dose. Do not use double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

Interactions are not expected.

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

This medicine can stain your skin, nails, hair, or clothing. The color should wash out of your skin, nails and hair a few days after you stop using it. Clothing may be permanently stained.

This medicine can make you more sensitive to the sun. Unless directed by your doctor or health care professional, avoid exposure to the sun for at least 24 to 72 hours after applying this medicine. If you cannot avoid being in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen. Do not use sun lamps or tanning beds/booths.

Do not apply this medicine to inflamed, broken, burned, or infected skin.

Do not get the shampoo in your eyes. If you do, rinse off with plenty of cool tap water.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue

  • irritation, swelling or redness

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • increased sensitivity to the sun

  • staining of skin, nails, or clothing

  • stinging

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 and 86 degrees F). Keep container tightly closed. Do not freeze. Throw away any unused shampoo after the expiration date.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

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Treat Scalp Psoriasis With the Right Shampoo

Tips for Better Results With Psoriasis Shampoos

To use psoriasis shampoo, massage the product into your scalp, leave it on for a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes unless otherwise instructed, and then rinse it out. Before using the shampoo, you may want to coat two cotton balls with petroleum jelly and place them in your ears to keep out the shampoo.

When you have active psoriasis lesions on your scalp, you may need to use psoriasis shampoo repeatedly to get the lesions under control. Often, this means using the shampoo daily for several weeks. While most psoriasis shampoos are safe to use every day, this may lead to scalp irritation over time. So once you have your lesions under control, you can help avoid irritation by cutting back on your use of the psoriasis shampoo to just twice a week.

Remember that psoriasis shampoo is designed to treat your scalp, not your hair. So you can follow a psoriasis treatment with your favorite cosmetic shampoo and conditioner for general hair care and reduce the smell that some psoriasis shampoos have. Recent advances have actually made some medicated psoriasis shampoos more cosmetically pleasing, so you may be pleasantly surprised.

Choosing a Psoriasis Shampoo at the Drugstore

Many brands of psoriasis shampoo are available over the counter at your local drugstore, or your doctor can prescribe a stronger, prescription psoriasis shampoo for you.

In some cases, you may need a shampoo with a special mixture of ingredients to be effective for your scalp psoriasis. If the right preparation isn’t available as an over-the-counter or prescription psoriasis shampoo, don’t attempt to mix different preparations, since this can be dangerous. Your doctor can write a special prescription, and a pharmacist will mix, or compound, your customized psoriasis shampoo for you.

When You Need Treatments in Addition to Psoriasis Shampoo

When your scalp psoriasis is more severe, psoriasis shampoo alone may not be enough to treat it. It’s also possible that even if the shampoo works for you initially, your psoriasis may eventually become resistant to its effects. In these cases, your doctor may recommend other treatments, such as topical scalp medications, a course of steroid medication, or ultraviolet light treatments.

Biologic drugs have proven to be effective in treating scalp psoriasis. A study of 145 patients with scalp psoriasis published in December 2016 in the Journal of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found the biologic drugs, uystekinumab and infliximab to be most beneficial, with adlimumab and etanercept also yielding satisfactory results.

In extreme cases, Takeshita recommends that people use oil-based topical steroids to help with softening and gentle removal of the scales. “Salicylic acid in shampoos is helpful, but in very severe cases a person needs more than topical treatments; such as, oral systemics or biologics,” Takeshita says. “Phototherapy can sometimes be helpful for severe cases as well, but usually this approach is reserved for those who have extremely short hair, or are bald, since the hair gets in the way of treatment.”

Although it can be challenging — and even frustrating at times — to deal with scalp psoriasis, you can bring it under control once you get on the right treatment plan.

US Pharm. 2013;38(6):26-31.

Patients approach pharmacists with a host of questions about relatively minor health conditions, and many involve the skin. Dermatologic questions concern allergic dermatitis, dry skin, minor wounds, and numerous other problems.1 Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis (SD) are two closely related dermatologic conditions that may be successfully self-treated. However, the pharmacist should be aware of the various means by which both are recognized and the possible interventions.


Dandruff is a common condition that affects up to 50% of the population.2-4 Age and sex influence the occurrence of dandruff. Most patients begin to notice dandruff during puberty.5 Dandruff may continue through middle age and then abate, but some patients will deal with it for their entire lives.

Excess skin oil (sebum) is an underlying contributor to dandruff epidemiology, as illustrated by its preference for males, postpubertal age, and poor hygiene. It is more common in male patients due partly to the influence of androgens but also to the fact that males have larger sebaceous glands on the scalp, especially after puberty.5 Their larger glands produce more oil than those of an age-matched set of females. Further, during the onset of puberty, the skin’s sebaceous glands mature into multilobulated configurations, allowing them to produce a heightened amount of sebum, which also leads to acne. Finally, patients who do not bathe or shampoo daily experience an accumulation of oil on the skin and scalp.5

An improper diet may contrib-ute to dandruff, especially if it is low in zinc, B vitamins, or specific types of fats. Dandruff also appears to be more common in patients with compromised immune status or Parkinson’s disease and in those recovering from stress-related situations such as a recent heart attack or stroke.5

Etiology: A lipophilic skin fungus known as Malassezia furfur is able to feed on the excess sebum present in the situations previously described, and is hypothesized to be a major cause of, or contributor to, dandruff.4 Although most adult scalps are colonized with Malassezia, many patients do not complain of dandruff. The exact reason why some people develop dandruff and others do not remains to be fully elucidated.4 While the fungal hypothesis for dandruff has gained widespread acceptance, there is no evidence that dandruff spreads from one individual to another.3

Manifestations: The hallmark sign of dandruff is excess flaking of the scalp. Normal stratum corneum constantly sheds its upper layer, but the shed skin cells are normally not noticed. Why is dandruff different? Dandruff cells have developed an abnormal cohesion, so much so that the resulting scales are visible and unsightly.2 They are usually white with an oily consistency due to the sebum.5 Many patients experience scalp itching, perhaps due to irritation from fungal growth residues.3,6 Occasionally, the scalp may appear erythematous.7

Treatment of Dandruff: Patients may choose from a wide array of therapeutic shampoos for dandruff.1 These products contain zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, salicylic acid, coal tar, or keto-conazole. Zinc pyrithione 1% shampoos include Head & Shoulders, Pert, and Zincon. Labels direct consumers to apply, rinse, and repeat if desired every time the hair is shampooed, but at least twice weekly or as directed by a physician. Selenium sulfide 1% shampoos include Selsun Blue, which directs the consumer to shake the bottle before pouring and to use it at least twice weekly or as directed by a physician. Selenium sulfide occasionally causes orange to red-brown scalp discoloration. The apparently harmless pigmentation disappears shortly after the product is discontinued, a process that can be aided by lightly swabbing the discolored areas with isopropyl alcohol.8

Salicylic acid 3% shampoos include T/Sal, which directs users to lather it onto the scalp, leave the lather in place for several minutes, and rinse, at least twice weekly or as directed by a physician.1

Coal tar shampoos are labeled for dandruff, but should only be a last resort due to the relatively serious warnings on their use.1 One such product is Denorex Therapeutic, containing 2.5% coal tar. The label directs consumers to shake the bottle well and shampoo at least twice weekly or as directed by a physician. The label also cautions users to keep it away from fire and flame due to extreme flammability (it contains 10.4% alcohol). Consumers are warned not to use coal tar shampoos for prolonged periods without asking a doctor and to consult a physician before use if the condition covers a large part of the body.1 This latter warning is necessary because coal tar products are also proven safe and effective to treat conditions not limited to the scalp, such as SD and psoriasis.

Those using coal tar products should be cautious in exposing treated areas to sunlight, as coal tar can increase the tendency to burn for 24 hours after application. A special label states that the product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer (referring to coal tar).1

Topical ketoconazole shampoo (Nizoral A-D) is another viable option for dandruff.1 As of this writing it is difficult to locate, but apparently has not been formally discontinued. It is to be used every 3 to 4 days for up to 8 weeks, and as needed thereafter. Patients are cautioned to stop use if dandruff worsens, if a rash appears, or if dandruff does not improve in 2 to 4 weeks. The product should not be used in persons under the age of 12 years or in those who are pregnant or nursing. Patients should not use it if the scalp has broken skin or inflamed areas.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

SD is a chronic condition marked by remissions and exacerbations. At the present time, no cure is known. SD affects approximately 3% to 5% of U.S. citizens, but the incidence is as high as 85% in AIDS patients.9,10 Males are more likely to experience SD. It is more common after puberty, although infants may experience a variant of SD known as cradle cap (discussed later).9 SD generally becomes less common as people age, although many experience exacerbations throughout life.9 Patients with certain central nervous system disorders may experience increased accumulation of sebum, predisposing them to SD. This includes conditions limiting patient mobility, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, head injury, cranial nerve palsies, and major truncal paralyses.9,11

There is an inherited tendency to experience SD, so those with a close relative with SD are at greater risk.11 Further, individuals with oily skin, acne, or obesity appear to be predisposed to SD.12 Those who are stressed or fatigued are at higher risk. Persons who do not bathe or shampoo frequently experience higher rates of SD. Patients who engage in outdoor activities during the summer may find that the condition improves.11

Etiology: The etiology of SD is similar to that of dandruff. M furfur is presumed causal in most patients, especially when a therapeutic trial of topical antifungal medications (e.g., ketoconazole cream) clears the condition and prevents its recurrence, as is often the case.9,13-15

Manifestations: SD produces skin scales that are yellowish in color, oily in consistency, and tend to adhere to the skin.11 The affected areas of skin are erythematous and pruritic. Plaques may cover large areas of the body, although they are more often found where sebaceous glands are most heavily concentrated. Many patients have lesions on the head, such as the scalp and its margins; on the eyebrows, eyelids, lips, side creases of the nose, nasolabial fold, and forehead; in the inner ear canal; behind the ears; and in the mustache/beard area. Other common attack sites are on the trunk (e.g., the midchest, anogenital region, beneath the breasts) and in all body folds, such as the groin, axillae, and navel.11,16 The distribution is symmetrical, making it unusual to have only one side of the body affected and the opposite side completely normal.

Treatment of SD: Patients with SD on the scalp are urged to wash daily with FDA-approved shampoos. They should first loosen SD scales with their fingers, scrub vigorously with the shampoo for at least 5 minutes, and rinse thoroughly, unless the product’s label provides different directions. Ingredients proven safe and effective for self-treatment of SD include the coal tar, zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, and salicylic acid products mentioned earlier. Nizoral A-D does not carry labeling for treatment of SD. However, hydrocortisone, ineffective for dandruff, is effective for SD. Patients with SD on the face or trunk might be advised to engage in a trial of hydrocortisone (e.g., Cortaid), applied twice daily. The pharmacist can also suggest that patients visit a physician to obtain a prescription for topical ketoconazole.13

Cradle Cap: Cradle cap is a relatively innocuous condition in which a baby’s scalp is covered with thick, crusted, yellow to brown scales.11 It usually disappears by 1 to 3 years of age.5,11 It may be pruritic, causing the baby to scratch the area. Scratching leads to inflammation or infection in some cases. Cradle cap is defined by some authorities as a type of dandruff.5 Others definitely state that it is related to SD.11

Pharmacists can advise parents of several helpful steps when their infant has cradle cap.11 The parent should massage the scalp gently with the fingers or a soft brush to promote healthy circulation and remove scales. When scales are present, the scalp should be washed daily with a gentle, mild shampoo, making sure to thoroughly rinse all soap from the scalp. If the condition resolves, parents may back off to twice weekly shampooing. They should brush the child’s hair with a clean, soft brush after shampooing and several times each day. To remove scales that seem to be more strongly attached, parents should place mineral oil on the scalp and wrap it with a wet, warm cloth, leaving this in place for an hour before the shampoo. Parents should check the cloth to make sure it remains warm in order to prevent chilling the baby. If these steps do not help, parents should take the child to the pediatrician to ensure that there is nothing more serious occurring.


What Is Dandruff?

Dandruff occurs only on the scalp. It is so common that almost everyone has seen it, as the embarrassing flaking of scalp skin that many people find cosmetically unacceptable. The flakes have a characteristic look, are somewhat oily, and seem to be present on a good part of the scalp. Someone with dandruff may also notice itching in the areas with the worst flaking.

Dandruff usually begins in the teen years when you go through puberty. It may improve as you age, although some people struggle with it all their lives. It is more common in men because their oil-producing glands are larger than those of women. It is worse in winter because the air is drier. Dry air causes the skin to dry out, and dry scalp skin is more prone to develop dandruff.

What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis may occur on the scalp but also on such oily skin areas as inside or behind the ears, on the creases at the sides of the nose, or on the eyelids, eyebrows, lips, face, upper chest, or back. It also causes scales that are white or yellow. The affected skin may also be reddened, and it may itch.

If one family member has seborrheic dermatitis, others are more likely to develop it. The condition seems to worsen under certain circumstances, such as stress, fatigue, extreme weather conditions, excess skin oiliness, failure to bathe or shampoo daily, use of alcohol-containing lotions, or presence of acne or obesity.

Treatment of Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis

You can try several products to see if they help dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis. Since both affect the scalp, there are several shampoos you may find beneficial.

For dandruff, there are many product options. Zinc pyrithione as found in Head & Shoulders, Pert, and Zincon shampoos is a good ingredient to try. Follow all label directions for use. Selenium sulfide as found in Selsun Blue is an alternative that is helpful. Salicylic acid helps dandruff and is found in Ionil Plus, Scalpicin Scalp Liquid, T/Sal, and Denorex Extra Strength.

A product called Nizoral A-D shampoo contains ketoconazole, a medication that attacks the fungus that can contribute to dandruff in some patients. It is worth a trial to see if the fungus can be controlled in your case.

Seborrheic dermatitis responds to all of the medications listed above except Nizoral A-D. Any may be beneficial. You may also try a trial of nonprescription hydrocortisone for seborrheic dermatitis, using a product such as Cortaid.

If your condition fails to respond to these interventions, you may need to visit a physician for a prescription medication such as ketoconazole cream. Applied once daily, it may effectively prevent the seborrheic dermatitis symptoms. Your physician can also check to see whether the condition is a more severe problem.

Remember, if you have questions, Consult Your Pharmacist.

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What is the best psoriasis shampoo?

If you have psoriasis on your scalp, a medicated shampoo can be an effective way to treat your symptoms. Read on to find out more about psoriasis shampoos and decide which might be the best for your needs.

About psoriasis shampoo

Psoriasis shampoo is a type of medicated treatment designed for people with scalp psoriasis. Typically, shampoos for psoriasis don’t require a prescription, but you may need to have a short conversation with the pharmacist before you buy them or answer some confidential questions when purchasing online.

Unlike regular shampoos, psoriasis shampoos are not designed to wash the hair. Rather, they are applied like a treatment and left on for five to 10 minutes before rinsing. After you have used a psoriasis shampoo you may need to use regular shampoo and conditioner on your hair.

Types of psoriasis shampoo

Psoriasis shampoos typically contain one or more of these ingredients:

  • Coal tar
  • Salicylic acid
  • Steroids

Coal tar is a thick, dark liquid which is known to have anti-inflammatory and moisturising properties, making it a good treatment for psoriasis. Psoriasis shampoos containing coal tar are typically available without a prescription. They are usually sufficient to treat mild symptoms of scalp psoriasis, such as flaking.

Because coal tar is dark in colour it can stain skin and fabric, and can even temporarily darken the hair. You should apply it carefully as you would with hair dye.

Two popular coal tar psoriasis shampoos are:

  • Polytar – alleviates itching, reduces scaling and inflammation
  • Neutrogena T/Gel – effective treatment for a dry and itching scalp

Salicylic acid is a substance that causes the outer layer of the skin to peel and shed. It can be an effective treatment for scalp psoriasis in which thick plaques have built up under the hair. Psoriasis shampoos containing salicylic acid usually also contain coal tar and coconut oil – one example is Capasal, which is available over the counter in your local pharmacy.

Steroids can be found in certain prescription-only shampoos for people with moderate to severe psoriasis. Steroids can reduce inflammation and irritation. One psoriasis shampoo containing steroids that your doctor might prescribe is Etrivex. This should be applied in small amounts, rubbed into the scalp, and left in for 15 minutes before rinsing. Treatment should last no longer than four weeks.

How to use psoriasis shampoos

Psoriasis shampoos should not be used like normal shampoos. They are not designed to clean the hair, and you will normally need to use a regular shampoo to wash your hair after you have finished the treatment.

You should use psoriasis shampoos exactly as directed by your pharmacist or doctor. If you’re in doubt, carefully consult the patient information leaflet that came with the product – if you can’t find it, you can search for it online at

When applying psoriasis shampoo to your scalp, make sure you use the recommended amount, and make sure that it reaches the scalp, and doesn’t get stuck in the hair. Some psoriasis shampoos must be left on for 10-15 minutes, while others should be rubbed in and rinsed out twice.

You shouldn’t leave psoriasis shampoo in your hair longer than recommended as you could damage the skin.

Psoriasis scalp applications

Another treatment for scalp psoriasis similar to shampoo is scalp applications. These are medicated ointments, gels or liquids applied directly to the scalp. Scalp applications might contain coal tar, vitamin D analogues, or steroids.

Unlike psoriasis shampoos, scalp applications should not be washed out. One exception to this is cocois ointment – this product contains coal tar and salicylic acid and should be applied to the scalp for one hour before being shampooed out.

Coal tar scalp applications are typically available over the counter without a prescription. Scalp applications containing vitamin D analogues or steroids typically require a prescription from your doctor.

Obtaining psoriasis shampoos and scalp applications

As we’ve already highlighted, several types of psoriasis shampoo and scalp application are available without a prescription. Certain products, including Polytar, can even be bought without speaking to a pharmacist.

However, it’s generally a good idea to speak to a medical professional before you start using any psoriasis shampoo or scalp application – if you haven’t received a diagnosis of scalp psoriasis, you may end up using the wrong treatment.

To learn more, make an appointment with your GP, or pop into your nearest LloydsPharmacy for advice from one of our experienced Pharmacists.


Psoriasis is a skin disease that occurs when your immune system sends flawed signals to your skin cells, telling them to mature and reproduce too quickly. But if you’re living with scalp psoriasis, then you already know this. You’ve probably tried your fair share of different treatments and shampoos for your scalp. If you’re still willing to experiment or aren’t happy with your current choice of shampoo, this guide is for you!

Finding the right shampoo can alleviate those more intense symptoms and make it easier to enjoy the day or sleep. In this guide, we look at the best psoriasis shampoos and their key attributes. Hopefully after reading this, you’ll know exactly what type of shampoo will work best for your scalp psoriasis.

Tar-Based Shampoos

Coal tar is one of the oldest and most commonly used treatments for psoriasis. Tar works by:

  • Slowing the growth of skin cells, preventing some of the excess buildup
  • Killing off the bacteria that causes scalp psoriasis
  • Soothing irritation
  • Softening scales and crusting
  • Helping restore your skin’s health

Coal tar shampoos vary in concentration and (as one would expect) a higher concentration means stronger effects. The FDA only allows up to 5% tar to be sold over the counter, since extremely high concentrations may be carcinogenic. Don’t worry, levels of tar that may cause cancer are the types to be found in industrial paving! You won’t be at risk from a shampoo. Nevertheless, the link warrants certain restrictions on what you can get without a prescription.

Speaking of risks, there are a couple things you should know about coal tar shampoo:

  • It may be smelly and cause irritation rather than helping. Like most topical medications, you should test it on a small patch of skin before using it.
  • It makes you sensitive to the sun for at least 24 hours after use, sometimes longer. Plan accordingly and pay special attention to sun exposure. On the day following a hair wash, hats and sunscreen are an even better idea than usual!
  • If you get coal tar shampoo in your eyes, rinse them with water for at least five minutes. If you swallow any, contact a poison control center immediately.
  • Talk to your doctor before trying coal tar shampoo if you are:
    • Pregnant, nursing, or may become pregnant
    • You are already taking other psoriasis medications (including over-the-counter treatments!)
    • You have sores or cuts on your scalp

Now that we’ve gotten all of the warnings out of the way, let’s get to the tips! If you and your doctor think coal tar shampoo is a good choice for you, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Coal tar shampoo works best if you leave it in for a full ten minutes after lathering. You can even rinse and repeat if necessary.
  • Don’t use conditioner afterwards. If your hair is prone to dryness, try to find a coal tar shampoo with added coconut oil or other oils.
  • Read the instructions on the bottle regarding how often to use the coal tar shampoo. You can use normal shampoo on off days if you like.
  • If your doctor says it’s right for you, you can use a moderate-strength topical steroid solution overnight after using your coal tar shampoo. This is often an effective combination.

Some common examples of coal tar shampoo include:

  • Pentrax
  • Sebutone
  • T-Gel
  • Zetar

Salicylic Acid Shampoos

Does salicylic acid already sound familiar to you? If so, there’s a good chance you or one of your loved ones struggles with acne.

Salicylic acid is actually used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including several types of psoriasis! The acid causes the skin to shed its cells, which may cause extra flaking in the short term. However, a salicylic acid shampoo can have excellent long-term effects on your scalp psoriasis symptoms.

As with tar-based shampoos, there are a couple situations in which you should avoid using salicylic acid. In fact, some of them are the exact same. Talk to your doctor if any of the following apply to you:

  • Currently pregnant, nursing, or may become pregnant
  • Taking any other medications for your psoriasis (including over-the-counter treatments!)
  • Have a cut or open sore on your scalp
  • You have any of the following issues:
    • Kidney or liver problems
    • Diabetes
    • Skin irritation or infection
    • Poor circulation
    • A history of Reye syndrome
  • You are under 18
  • If you are on:
    • Ammonium sulfate
    • Heparin/warfarin
    • Steroids
    • Methotrexate
    • Aspirin
    • Sulfonylureas

Salicylic acid shampoo also comes in both prescription and nonprescription varieties. If you and your doctor think an over-the-counter salicylic acid shampoo is right for you, here are some instructions:

  1. Apply shampoo to a DRY scalp
  2. Let it sit for 5 minutes (you can gradually increase this time if needed)
  3. Rise your hair thoroughly
  4. Wash your hair as usual, with a normal shampoo and conditioner

How often you use the medicated shampoo will depend on the concentration of the salicylic acid. Remember to read the instructions carefully and consult with your doctor if needed.

If you only have mild psoriasis and salicylic acid shampoo is too harsh, you can either find a brand with a lower concentration or try a shampoo with:

  • Lactic acid
  • Phenol
  • Urea

If your nonprescription option seems like it’s not making enough of a difference, you may want to ask your doctor or healthcare provider if a prescription option is better for you. There are a few differences when it comes to prescription salicylic acid shampoos:

  • Apply to a WET scalp with the provided applicator
  • Massage in and rinse thoroughly, without waiting 5 minutes
  • Repeat daily unless instructed otherwise
  • Don’t use a traditional shampoo and conditioner afterward

Keratolytic Shampoos

Keratolytic shampoos are somewhat like salicylic acid shampoos, since they also work by forcing the excess cells to shed. However, keratolytic shampoos are a more intense treatment option and typically only used for severe cases of psoriasis. Keratolytics are typically only used on the scalp, since it’s one of the thickest layers of skin on the body and sometimes requires extra heavy lifting. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider if a keratolytic shampoo could be right for you.

Alternative Treatments

There are a variety of other ways to alleviate psoriasis symptoms. Though there is no link between non medicated shampoos and a cure for psoriasis, certain alternative options may help remove scales and moisturize the skin. These include:

  • Aloe vera
  • Capsaicin
  • Coconut oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Zinc pyrithione

Some psoriasis patients use phototherapy, a light therapy that exposes them to controlled amounts of UV light. Others make sure that whatever treatment shampoo they use contains eggs, which have over 70 naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Orally taking fish oil has also been known to help.

Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. Please be sure to run any changes or treatment ideas by your dermatologist or other health care provider before trying them.

Of course, a healthy lifestyle is something that will help with any medical condition, including psoriasis. Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and managing stress are always good ideas.


Psoriasis can be both physically and emotionally painful, but finding the right shampoo can work wonders for your scalp. From coal tar shampoo to salicylic acid shampoo to even the strongest keratolytic shampoo, you can find the right shampoo for your scalp psoriasis. Just don’t forget to let your doctor know about any changes you make!

We’d also like you to know that if you live in Central Florida, you may qualify for a psoriasis clinical trial at our clinic in DeLand. If you’d like to learn more

Psoriasis treatment: Coal tar

Prescribing coal tar: Dermatologists have been prescribing coal tar for more than 100 years to treat psoriasis. You’ll find many psoriasis treatments that contain coal tar. Some you can buy without a prescription. Treatments that contain coal tar include solutions that you add to a bath, foams, shampoos, and ointments. The advantages of using coal tar are:

  • It costs less than most psoriasis treatments

  • It can be used long term

Why do dermatologists prescribe coal tar for psoriasis?

Coal tar can effectively treat:

  • Plaque-type psoriasis

  • Itch

  • Scalp psoriasis (especially if itch is the main symptom)

  • Difficult-to-treat psoriasis on the palms and soles

  • Scale

Your dermatologist may prescribe coal tar alone or include it as part of a treatment plan that includes other medicines, phototherapy, or both.

Safety and effectiveness

Safety: Dermatologists have been prescribing coal tar for more than 100 years to treat psoriasis, and it is considered safe for long-term use.

Like all medicines, some patients should avoid coal tar. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may want to use a different treatment. We have too little information about how coal tar can affect an unborn baby or a child who is nursing.

People who are sun sensitive or take medicine that makes them more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light should also use a different treatment.

Effectiveness: Coal tar can be very effective. Some people see complete clearing with coal tar and long remissions (time without psoriasis).

Many patients who have difficult-to-treat psoriasis on their palms and soles (palmoplantar psoriasis) see clearing when they use coal tar along with a corticosteroid that they apply to their psoriasis.

Dermatologists also include coal tar in a treatment plan for patients who have scalp psoriasis. Coal tar can clear scalp psoriasis and increase remissions on the scalp.

How well coal-tar products work varies. You cannot always tell which product will work best by looking at how much coal tar the product contains. In one study, patients using a lotion containing 1% coal tar had better results than the patients using a product that contained 5% coal tar extract. Other studies have found similar results. For this reason, it’s best to ask your dermatologist for a product recommendation.

Coal tar warning

Never apply coal tar to your genitals or rectum unless your dermatologist recommends doing so.

Does coal tar cause cancer?

In California, you’ll find cancer warnings on some coal tar products you can use to treat psoriasis. This warning was added to products in California due to:

  • Animal studies (where the animals were exposed to a lot more coal tar than we would use to treat psoriasis)

  • Occupational studies (where a person works with industrial coal tar)

To date, studies fail to show an increased risk of cancer in people who use coal tar to treat psoriasis or atopic dermatitis (eczema). People who work with industrial coal tar, however, have an increased risk of developing cancer of the lungs, scrotum, and skin.

How to use

You’ll find coal tar in many different products used to treat psoriasis. Coal tar can be an effective treatment for scalp psoriasis and is found in psoriasis shampoos. You’ll also find it in bath solutions, ointments, and many other forms.

Coal tar shampoo

When using a coal tar shampoo to treat scalp psoriasis, make sure that the shampoo gets on your scalp.

Coal tar can also be applied to the skin with psoriasis. When treating the skin, you massage the coal tar into the psoriasis. Your dermatologist will tell you how often to do this.

To increase the effectiveness of coal tar, your dermatologist may have you wrap the treated area.

Only do this when your dermatologist recommends it. Wrapping greatly increases the strength of coal tar.

Possible side effects

While coal tar has an excellent safety record, it can:

  • Irritate the skin

  • Cause a rash or acne-like breakout

  • Lead to easily burned skin from the sun or a tanning bed because it makes your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light

  • Stain skin, light-colored hair, and clothing

  • Leave an unpleasant odor

  • Make hair dry and brittle when used to treat scalp psoriasis

  • Worsen psoriasis

Immediately stop using coal tar if you develop:

  • Severe stinging or burning

  • Swelling

  • Worsening psoriasis

What to discuss with your dermatologist

It’s important to tell your dermatologist if you:

  • Have irritated skin or any other side effect

  • Stop using coal tar

  • Develop worsening psoriasis

Cordoro KM. “Management of childhood psoriasis.” Adv Dermatol. 2008;24:125-69.

Feldman SR. “Treatment of psoriasis.” UpToDate 2015 Jul, Wolters Kluwer Health. Last accessed November 2015.

Menter A, Korman NJ, et al. “Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Section 3. Guidelines of care for the management and treatment of psoriasis with topical therapies.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2009;60:643-59.

Paghdal KV, Schwartz RA. “Topical tar: Back to the future.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009 Aug;61(2):294-302.

All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

Supported in part by Novartis.

About Neutar Coal Extract

Coal tar might not sound like something you want to use on your hair, but it’s actually been used for many years as a topical remedy for skin diseases. Typically found in products used to treat conditions like scalp psoriasis, seborrhoeic dermatitis and dandruff, coal tar could be an ingredient to look out for if you want to manage your scalp condition.

What is coal tar?

Coal tar is a thick, dark brown or black liquid. It’s a by-product of the carbonisation of coal, which involves heating it to very high temperatures to produce coal gas or coke. Coal tar can be found in shampoos, soaps and ointments.

How does coal tar shampoo work?

Coal tar has many benefits. In addition to potentially being anti-fungal and anti-parasitic, it also can help to reduce the itching associated with many scalp conditions. Coal tar shampoo can help to slow down the rapid growth of skin cells associated with flaking on the scalp, and restore the skin’s appearance.

Where to buy coal tar

The Neutrogena® T/Gel® Therapeutic Shampoo 250ml contains Neutar™ Solubilised Coal Tar Extract. A fragranced, medicated shampoo, T/Gel® Therapeutic Shampoo is also available in a 125ml bottle, and is designed to treat an itchy, flaky scalp and leave your hair shiny and manageable. Rub liberally into wet hair and scalp, and leave for several minutes. Rinse, and then repeat the process, before giving the hair and scalp a final, thorough rinse. Use two to three times a week to help manage scalp problems.

Shampoos with coal tar

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