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Porphyria Educational Services

Vol. 2 No. 3                                        January 16, 2000
FOCUS: Blisters and Porphyria Cutaneous Tardea [PCT]

In the PCT type of porphyria the most common skin problem
is that of vesicles which are otherwise known as blisters.

A vesicle is a thin-walled sac filled with a fluid.
The fluid is usually clear and ranging in size from pinpoint to
10 millimeters in diameter. As a rule, the term vesicle is usually
used to describe small blisters, while the term bullae is used to
describe larger blisters.

In addition the vesicle is an important term used to describe
the appearance of many rashes that typically consist of or
begin with tiny-to-small fluid-filled blisters.

Typical illnesses beside porphyria cutaneous tarda  that begin
with vesicular eruptions are cold sore  are cold sore (herpes labialis),
genital herpes, shingles (herpes zoster), and chicken pox.
These have the appearance of area or patches or otherwise
called crops of vesicles. Because of the similar crops of vesicles
it sometimes makes a diagnosis of PCT hard when based upon'
the skin appearance alone.

Contact dermatitis may first show up with tiny vesicles
 that itch or burn. A typical example of contact dermatitis
 would be something like poison ivy.
It begins with tiny vesicles that enlarge rapidly, rupture,
ooze for a period of time, and finally crust over and heal.

In PCT these eruptions often lead to massive scarring.  In PCT
the skin remains thin and fragile and will easily break.