This patient information on Orlando PORPHYRIA CUTANEA TARDA Treatments is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Porphyria cutanea tarda is a rare disease of the skin that usually occurs in adults. Typically it appears as blisters and small white bumps on the back of the hands. The skin is often fragile and easily injured. Frequently the face grows extra hair and develops dark areas of discoloration around the eyes. Sunburn sensitivity may be increased with Porphyria cutanea tarda.
What causes it? Some people inherit a predisposition to develop porphyria cutanea tarda, while others get it from taking certain medicines or alcohol. Whatever the reason there is a malfunction in your ability to make a certain chemical needed by red blood cells. This is due to a problem with a particular enzyme in the liver not working correctly. This malfunction results in a chemical, called porphyrin, building up in your blood. With time this porphyrin accumulates in the skin. When sunlight hits this skin porphyrin it turns into a different chemical that causes skin fragility and blistering.
How is it diagnosed? I may suspect the diagnosis of porphyria cutanea tarda based on the appearance of the blisters. I may also do a skin biopsy, where the skin is looked at under the microscope, as well as some blood tests. Often special tests preformed on your urine will be required to confirm the diagnosis.
Is it dangerous? For the typical healthy person porphyria cutanea tarda is not a dangerous disorder.
Can it be cured? In some people if the cause can be eliminated the condition may leave without needing treatment. If the cause can't be determined, the treatment program I put you on will help control or clear the disorder, but it is not a cure. Even if the disorder is totally cleared, you will still be predisposed to have repeat episodes. Repeat treatments may be needed and some individuals may required continuous therapy.
Will it spread? Skin changes will continue to worsen without treatment, but generally only the face and back of the hands are involved.
Is it contagious? It is not contagious and you cannot "catch it" from anyone.
Was this caused by something I ate? Perhaps something you drank. Porphyria cutanea tarda can be caused by alcohol consumption in some individuals. It is recommended that you do not drink alcohol or take Iron supplementation if you have porphyria cutanea tarda.