What are cutaneous porphyrias?

Cutaneous porphyrias are also known as erythropoietic porphyrias, because the accumulation of porphyrins takes place in red blood cells (erythrocytes). These are rare, and mostly affect the skin.

Signs and symptoms of cutaneous porphyrias include:

  • photosensitivity – a rash can develop on exposure to sunlight
  • an itchy, swollen rash
  • blisters
  • necrosis – death of certain tissues
  • increased hair growth (for example: on the forehead)

There is no abdominal pain in cutaneous porphyrias.

Treatment for cutaneous porphyrias is centred around avoiding sunlight. Usually, sunscreens are ineffective, but extra clothing is helpful.

Photosensitivity Guide Index:

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