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May 2, 1959


Author Affiliations

Norfolk, Va.

JAMA. 1959;170(1):19-23. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010010021004

Opinions as to the usefulness of the psoralen group of drugs in treating vitiligo were obtained by questionnaire from 100 dermatologists in various parts of the world. Two dermatologists were enthusiastic about the systemic use of the psoralens, eight were vehement in their condemnation, and most considered the results poor. Systemic use of the psoralens caused a wide variety of disagreeable signs and symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, gastric burning, dermatitis, rectal bleeding, albuminuria, and jaundice. Animal experiments demonstrated eye damage (cataracts) and the development of tumors through probable photosensitizing factors. The psoralens are presumed to enhance tanning and increase resistance to sunburn. The use of drugs of such potential toxicity for what is primarily a cosmetic problem should be deplored. In those instances in which tanning is medically desirable, the results have been equivocal.