Are you wondering what tar soap is? If you have a skin condition that is red and itchy, tar soap is something that you may count on. In fact, a lot of doctors recommend it to their patients who are suffering from acne, eczema and other skin problems. These days, you can also find tar shampoo for dandruff.
Cheap and available at most supermarkets and pharmacies, tar soap possesses a property that medical experts refer to as keratoplastic. In layman’s terms, it means that tar soap causes the accelerated thickening of the topmost layer of the skin so that it may be shed off in no time, and then slows down the growth of new skin cells.
A Roster of Impressive Properties
The keratoplastic ability of tar soap is not the only one that deserves a time under the spotlight. Experts say that tar soap is capable of killing off bacteria. And here’s something more impressive: even after rinsing off tar soap with water, its antibacterial properties is said to stay around for several hours more!
Additionally, tar soap is well-known for its ability to promote detoxification of the skin. Its topical use, according to many studies, helps pull out impurities and toxins in the skin.
Coming From a Couple of Sources
On the current market, you can come across two types of tar soap — coal tar soap and pine tar soap. Basically, both types of tar soaps work in the same fashion, although they come from different sources. A skin specialist may prescribe one or the other, usually depending on his or her preference.
Just like what the name suggests, coal tar soap contains various compounds that are byproducts of coal’s processing or distillation. On the other hand, pine tar soap is made from the resin of pine trees. When you take a whiff of this product, you will immediately realize that it boasts of that very familiar pine scent.
Many Experts Prefer Coal Tar Soap Over the Other
While both coal tar soap and pine tar soap possess antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, the truth is many skin specialists prefer coal tar soap for treating eczema, psoriasis and other related skin conditions. It’s for the fact that coal tar soap’s keratoplastic properties are more pronounced.
However, this does not mean that pine tar soap is less effective. In fact, there are skin specialists out there who are more inclined to recommend the product as it tends to be milder especially to sensitive skin.
Coal Tar’s Soap Drawback
Although many skin specialists and their patients can attest to the effectiveness of coal tar soap in treating various itchy and inflamed skin issues, coal tar soap is feared by many to cause cancer.
It’s true that numerous studies have established the carcinogenic properties of coal tar. However, large concentrations of coal tar are needed in order for it to cause cancer. In reality, however, commercially-available coal tar soaps actually contain small amounts of coal tar only, and it’s not enough to cause cancer in humans, experts say.
Besides, many clinical studies involving laboratory mice and even humans found out that the use of coal tar soap did not cause cancer because the amount of coal tar present is minimal.
Skin Irritation and Other Related Concerns
The use of coal tar may cause irritation in those who have sensitive skin. Redness, excessive dryness, rashes — these may result in the use of coal tar if your skin is not compatible with it.
But whether or not you develop unfavorable side effects, staying away from unnecessary exposure to the sun is of utmost importance. Since the active compounds in coal tar soap lingers on the skin even after it’s been rinsed off, it may cause sensitivity to the sun that may lead to sunburn.