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Porphyria Cutanea Tarda


Porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) is a disorder that causes skin to form blisters or lesions when exposed to sunlight. PCT is a form of porphyria, a disorder that affects how your body makes red blood cells (RBC). A chemical called porphyrin builds up in your skin. Proteins are released that cause the skin to become overly sensitive to sunlight. Skin lesions or blisters form where the skin was exposed to sunlight. PCT can be genetic or caused by exposure to certain chemicals or infections.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have a fast heartbeat or chest pain.
  • You have sudden trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or hematologist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have chills or a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • You have pain, redness, or swelling around your skin blisters.
  • Your skin blisters have a bad smell or pus coming out of them.
  • Your symptoms do not improve or are getting worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Malaria medicines help remove excess porphyrins from your liver.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Prevent a PCT attack:

  • Do not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Cigarettes and alcohol may damage your liver and make your PCT worse. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have trouble quitting smoking or drinking.
  • Be careful with medicines. Ask your healthcare provider if any of the medicines you take can trigger a PCT attack.
  • Protect your skin. Keep your skin protected from sun and scratches. Wear lightweight, loose, and light-colored clothing. Protect your head and neck with a hat or umbrella when you are outdoors. Wear sunscreen that has a sun protectant factor (SPF) approved by your healthcare provider. Follow the directions on the label when you use sunscreen.

Wound care:

Your skin blisters may get infected and take a long time to heal.

  • Wash your hands before and after you care for your wound.
  • Clean your blisters with mild soap and water, and pat dry. Do this as often as ordered by your healthcare provider. If you cannot reach the wound, have someone help you.
  • Carefully check the blister and the area around it. Watch for any swelling, redness, or fluid oozing out of it. Apply gentle pressure to stop any bleeding.
  • Cover your wound with a layer of sterile gauze bandage. If the bandage should be wrapped around your arm or leg, wrap it snugly but not too tight. It is too tight if you feel tingling or lose feeling in that area.
  • Keep the bandage clean and dry.

Follow up with your doctor or hematologist as directed:

If you have a liver or kidney disease, it is especially important to keep all appointments. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.