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Balnetar + Udderly Smooth 
from Howard R.

Dang it, it's happened again. Stole away a couple minutes to write this question, then spent way too long reading through all these great e-mails. This site and you people are too interesting!

My question: does anyone know about any serious negative consequences of using Balnetar (coal tar 2.5% in mineral oil) over the long term? 

Background: In the NPF newsletter "It Works for Me" column a month or so ago, an angel, a truly wonderful woman wrote in and suggested mixing a capful of Balnetar (probably about a tablespoonful) with jar of "Udderly Smooth" lotion (used originally, I guess, for cows).  After she mixed up the lotion and Balnetar with a wooden spoon, she put on a thin layer a couple times a day and had great results at a very reasonable price of money and time.  I was getting desperate for something non-systemic that might help, as I'd just come off (come down from?) trials for anti-CD11a which had worked so well I'd gotten apathetic about doing much else ... or else I was having a major rebound, which I've heard others have experienced in connection with anti-CD11a.

Anyway, I tried her suggestion of Balnetar and Udderly Smooth, a couple times a day, not terribly consistently, and what a difference! No more shaking the sheets off in the morning, no more looking around the desk to see if hand-sweeping the floor before going home from work could wait another day, no more being paranoid about shedding while in someone else's office.  If things keep improving, maybe I'll even wear a short-sleeve shirt later this week when the temperature's supposed to approach three digits.  It might be my second short-sleeve shirt summer in over a decade,  the only other with the help of anti-cd11a.  Blah blah blah...

Anyone else have luck with — or fears of — Balnetar + Udderly Smooth?  Thanks again for the great coffee break. -Howard R.

*****

Ed’s Response:  Well, Howard, the answer may be different depending upon whether you live inside or outside of California.  (See NPF’s coverage of the California Coal Tar Wars.) 

Fact of the matter is, coal tar as part of a topical concoction (lotion, ointment, cream, shampoo, conditioner...) has been used for generations to combat P lesions.  It works for a lot of people at least part of the time.  I’ve been shampooing with coal tar for over a decade.  Sometimes it is all I need to keep scalp P in check, other times it doesn’t seem to help at all.

I’m not familiar with “Udderly Smooth” but it sounds similar to “Bag Balm,” a thick, petrolatum-type goop that flakers have also been using for ages to keep their lesions moist and supple.  If it is like “Bag Balm” it helps probably for two reasons:  (1) it’s a good moisturizer and, (2) it can act rather like an occlusive dressing for its own active ingredients or for other things mixed into it (like Balnetar).  What I mean by “rather like an occlusive dressing” is this:  “Occlusion” is the process of creating a barrier between the lesion and air and most often involves a plastic dressing of some kind (Saran Wrap is infamously used for this purpose).  Some heavy ointments create — at least for a short time — an air-barrier of sorts because they aren’t absorbed into the skin quickly.  They maintain a greasy feel for protracted periods.

In the case of your Balnetar + Udderly Smooth, I imagine the coal-tar medicine (Balnetar) is being allowed to penetrate deeper and work longer because of the Udderly Smooth.

Like most other topical regimens, don’t be surprised if it stops working after awhile.  This is par for the course.  If this happens, try something else for awhile and return to the B+US some months later.  You might find they work again.

Meanwhile, I hope anyone else with experience using this combination — or insights — will add their thoughts.  Good luck, Howard.  -Ed

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