The Vampire Disease: Cutaneous Porphyria

Home » The Vampire Disease: Cutaneous Porphyria
Vampire cosplay

I thought it might be appropriate to write about this disease since Halloween is coming up. Porphyria is thought to be the where vampire myths have come from, as people suffering from this disease usually have a sensitivity to sunlight, and abnormal hair growth. The main cause for this disease is the inability to produce heme (a part of our red blood cells) The slang term for this illness is the Vampire Disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, this disease can usually be divided into two different categories although there are many different types. The two categories are Acute and Cutaneous Porphyria.

Acute porphyria includes the forms of this disease that primarily cause problems with the nervous system.(neuron porphyrias).Sometimes skin symptoms (neurocutaneous porphyrias), will also be a problem.
Cutaneous porphyria This includes the forms of this disease that cause problems in the skin due to oversensitivity to sunlight. This type does not affect the nervous system. 

The signs and symptoms a person with Porphyria may have will depend on the type they have.

Acute porphyria symptoms include

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Constipation or Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in limbs or back
  • Muscle pain, tingling, numbness, weakness or even paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Confusion/Disorientation
  • Hallucinations/Paranoia
  • Red colored urine
  • High blood pressure

Cutaneous porphyrias and neurocutaneous acute porphyrias

  • Itching
  • Painful skin redness 
  • Skin swelling
  • Blisters
  • Red urine
  • Abnormal Hair Growth
  • sensitivity to sunlight 


One can see how Cutaneous Porphyria might lead to myths of vampires and werewolves, due to the symptoms they often experience. This disease has a wide range of symptoms and some people may be unaware they have the disease, as anywhere from 1 in 500 to 1 in 50,000 people may suffer from it. So beware, the vampire in the movies might actually be right behind you!

~Happy Halloween, HealthyGirl