methoxsalen topical

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is methoxsalen-topical, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

  • Methoxsalen is a naturally occurring photoactive chemical found in the seeds of the Ammi majus (Umbelliferae) plant and in the roots of Heraclem candicans. It belongs to a group of compounds known as psoralens, or furocoumarins. Methoxsalen lotion is used for treating vitiligo (leucoderma). The exact mechanism of action of methoxsalen is not known.
  • Methoxsalen has several biological actions that may be responsible for its medical effects. Methoxsalen is a photosensitizer that increases the reaction of skin cells to UVA. Some experts suggest that methoxsalen improves vitiligo by stimulating melanocytes (melanin forming skin cells) to move up the hair follicle and to repopulate the epidermis. Methoxsalen also combines with DNA in skin cells, leading to inhibition of DNA synthesis, cell division, and reduced formation of new skin cells. Administration of methoxsalen combined with UVA exposure causes cellular damage, leading to skin inflammation and erythema. The damaged skin heals after several days to weeks.
  • The FDA approved methoxsalen lotion in December 1954.

What brand names are available for methoxsalen-topical?


Is methoxsalen-topical available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for methoxsalen-topical?


What are the uses for methoxsalen-topical?

  • Methoxsalen lotion is a topical repigmenting agent for treating vitiligo (leucoderma). It is used in conjunction with controlled doses of ultraviolet A light (UVA, 320-400 nm) or sunlight.

What are the side effects of methoxsalen-topical?

Common side effects include:

What is the dosage for methoxsalen-topical?

  • Methoxsalen lotion should be applied to the affected area 2 hr. before UV exposure every 3 to 7 days.
  • It takes a few weeks for pigmentation to begin.
  • Significant repigmentation may take 6 to 9 months of treatment and re-treatment may be necessary to retain the new pigment.

Which drugs or supplements interact with methoxsalen-topical?

Is methoxsalen-topical safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

  • Methoxsalen lotion has not been studied in pregnant women and it is not known whether methoxsalen can harm the fetus when used by a pregnant woman. It is not known whether methoxsalen is absorbed into the blood stream when it is applied to the skin. Methoxsalen lotion should be used in pregnant women only when clearly needed.
  • It is not known whether methoxsalen is excreted in human milk after it is applied to the skin.

What else should I know about methoxsalen-topical?

What preparations of methoxsalen-topical are available?

Lotion: 1%

How should I keep methoxsalen-topical stored?

Methoxsalen lotion should be stored at 15 to 30 C (59 to 86 F)


Methoxsalen topical (Oxsoralen) is a prescription drug used to treat vitiligo (leucoderma). Common side effects include:

Drug interactions, warnings, dosing, and pregnancy and breastfeeding information should be reviewed prior to using this medication.

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REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information