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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.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


A dietitian may talk to you about changes to your diet. He or she will also suggest liquids for you to drink. Your dietitian may also give you a meal plan if you have a liver or kidney disease. You may need to eat certain foods to help your body work well with PCT.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Malaria medicines

may be given to help remove excess porphyrins from your liver.


  • Ultrasound pictures are used to check the tissues and organs of your abdomen.
  • Blood, urine, or bowel movement samples may be collected and sent to a lab for tests. These will check the levels of your porphyrins.
  • A liver or skin biopsy is used to remove small samples to be sent to a lab for tests.
  • Liver function tests are used to check the enzymes (chemicals) and other substances made or broken down in your liver. Test results will tell healthcare providers how your liver is working.


You may need a treatment called phlebotomy. A certain amount of blood is regularly removed through your vein using an intravenous (IV) tube. The excess iron is slowly removed. This will decrease the porphyrin levels in your liver and blood.


Without treatment, porphyria cutanea tarda can cause more problems. You may have skin damage from sun and small injuries. This may cause skin ulcers, infections, bleeding, and swelling. You may develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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 (Inpatient 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.