Definition of psoralen in US English:



  • A compound present in certain plants which is used in perfumery and (in combination with ultraviolet light) to treat psoriasis and other skin disorders.

    A tricyclic lactone; chemical formula: C₁₁H₆O₃

    • ‘To control itching, you may be given cholestyramine, cyproheptadine, cimetidine, or psoralen plus ultraviolet light treatment.’
    • ‘Many other agents have been used to treat alopecia areata, including minoxidil, psoralen plus ultraviolet A, and anthralin (Anthra-Derm), but success rates vary.’
    • ‘First, although most of these mutations were induced by ethyl methanesulfonate, some were spontaneous and others were caused by ultraviolet light and trimethyl psoralen.’
    • ‘Some patients are given a capsulated drug called psoralen (a plant extract) combined with artificial ultraviolet spectrum sunlight.’
    • ‘There are concerns about the possible risk of autoimmune diseases in psoralen plus ultraviolet A light treated patients.’


1930s: from modern Latin Psoralea (former genus name), from Greek psōraleos ‘itchy’ (from psōra ‘itch’) + the suffix -en (compare with -ene).