Why use Cutar®? (Or any coal tar for that matter!)
If you have been to a doctor for your psoriasis, you were probably prescribed a topical corticosteroid. Steroids are anti-inflammatory drugs used to help control psoriasis. Basically the goals of using a coal tar product like Cutar and topical steroids are the same: to control itching, scaling, inflammation and redness. Tar generally takes longer to work than topical steroids and has a characteristic odor. However steroids can have undesirable side effects that are causing more patients and their doctors to take another look at Cutar. Dermatologists often recommend Cutar in addition to steroids to help control the following steroid side effects:
Steroid Rebound – Sometimes when patients stop using topical steroids, their psoriasis returns quickly and often worse than the original outbreak. Cutar will generally keep skin clearer for a longer period of time after you stop treatment. However, it generally takes longer for Cutar to begin showing results.
Tachyphylaxis – Your medication stops working. Often patients will have success with a certain topical steroid, only to have it become less and less effective over time. Patients who get relief from tar, generally stay better for longer periods of time, during and after their course of treatment with tar.
Skin Atrophy – thinning of the skin. Using topical steroids, especially more potent ones, for prolonged periods, may cause skin atrophy where the skin becomes very thin and more susceptible to damage. Cutar will not atrophy the skin.
To avoid or decrease the likelihood of side effects, many dermatologists recommend the use of coal tar either alone, or in combination with steroids to get the benefits of both products. Some patients can control psoriasis outbreaks rapidly with steroids, and then maintain clearing with coal tar over the long term, avoiding steroid side effects. Cutar can be used either as a medicated lotion or as bath oil for therapeutic soaks.