Patients use ichthammol ointment for chronic eczema, according to NetDoctor. Ichthammol ointment is used to treat other skin ailments such as septic lesions, cellulitis, abscesses and bursitis, according to the Free Medical Dictionary. The ointment, which comes from coal tar, has mild irritant, stimulant, antiseptic and analgesic properties. Drugs.com warns that ichthammol is approved only for animal use in some countries.
Ichthammol ointment reduces itching, inflammation and excessive hardening of the skin, according to NetDoctor. Scientists are not sure why, but somehow the tarry substance prevents skin from becoming hard and scaly. Yellow soft paraffin wax and wool fat are added to the oil to keep moisture on the skin during application.
This product is for topical, external use only and shouldn't be applied near the eyes. The ointment's dark color may stain clothing, so a protective cover can be used to protect clothing, NetDoctor advises. Patients should wash their hands after applying this product, unless the skin ailment is on the hands.
The ointment normally comes in 10 to 20 percent concentrations and is marketed as a "drawing salve," states the Free Dictionary. Related products include zinc and ichthammol, zinc paste and ichthammol bandages, and ichthammol in glycerin. Drugs.com posts a comprehensive list of generic and brand names for ichthammol ointment sold in various countries.