Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Discolouration and scarring of the skin are common symptoms of porphyria.

Discolouration and scarring of the skin are common symptoms of porphyria.
beginning of content


2-minute read

Porphyria is a group of uncommon diseases caused by problems with red blood cells. The problems cause a build-up in the body of chemicals called porphyrins. Porphyria can cause a wide range of symptoms.

Porphyria types

There are many types of porphyria, with the 2 most common being:

  • cutaneous, mainly affecting skin
  • acute, mainly affecting the neurological system

Porphyria is usually inherited, but it can also occur without anyone else in the family having it.

Porphyria symptoms

The signs and symptoms of porphyria can vary, depending on the type and severity. Some people have no symptoms. Some go for long periods without any symptoms. Some people have quite a bit of trouble with symptoms.

The most common symptoms are:

Porphyria diagnosis

Because porphyria can cause so many different symptoms, it can be hard to diagnose. Your doctor can talk to you and examine you, and will probably want to arrange urine or blood tests as well.

Genetic tests can be useful too.

Porphyria treatment

Porphyryia can’t be cured, but there are many ways to manage and treat it.

You can:

Your doctor may also advise you about:

Visit the Porphyria Association website for more information about porphyria.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2019

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.