A cautionary tale for backyard bartenders everywhere! (Photo: Getty Images)
A Florida man landed in the hospital recently with second-degree burns just one week before his wedding. The reason for the burns: Margaritas.
Aaron Peers developed the burns after squeezing limes for margaritas in his backyard, reports CBS’s WTSP. The burns developed over the next two days — first as red marks over his hands and then as blisters — thanks to a skin reaction called phytophotodermatitis, which can occur when citric acid is mixed with sunlight.
“The blistering is gone and now I’m left with really bright pink skin,” Peers told WTSP. “If you can imagine when I was actually squeezing the limes, how the juice might run over and it got up my arm. The most normal reaction is ‘That’s gross,’ which I agree, it’s super gross.”
A child with juice phytophotodermatitis. (Photo: Jill Waibel)
The link between phytophotodermatitis and margaritas isn’t unheard of — the condition is also known as “Margarita Dermatitis” or “Lime Disease” — and its symptoms can range from the barely perceptible to full-on burns.
Phytophotodermatitis can also be caused by chemicals in other fruits and plants, like lemons, figs, celery, parsley, and parsnips, according to research from Baylor University Medical Center, but citrus fruits tend to be the biggest instigator.
Phytophotodermatitis on the hand. (Photo: Jill Waibel)
“It’s actually fairly common,” board-certified dermatologist Jill Waibel, MD, medical director and owner of Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute in Miami, tells Yahoo Health, noting that she sees up to 40 patients with the condition each summer.
Phytophotodermatitis happens more often during warmer weather when people are more likely to be outside with some kind of fruity drink, she says, and also commonly develops on children who spill fruit juice down their front. Waibel has even seen the skin discoloration happen with men who wear citrus-scented cologne before they go out in the sun.
How does it work, exactly? Some plants have compounds called coumarins, which can react with the sun’s UVA light, Waibel explains. When that reaction happens on a person’s skin, the skin can become discolored where the reaction occurred, and it will show up in two days or so. Those discolorations are often odd-looking, showing up in drip- or splatter-like patterns where the liquid landed on a person’s skin.
Most people don’t even know they have it, Waibel says, and typically, the marks fade after a week or two.
Many just experience the discoloration, but sometimes the reaction can be so bad that it causes blisters and burns, like Peers experienced.
Unfortunately phytophotodermatitis can happen to anyone, although people who have sensitive skin, eczema, or are prone to getting bad cases of poison ivy are more likely to be at risk, Waibel says.
Planning to sip fruity drink or put lime in your beer while hanging outside this summer? Wash your hands or rinse off in the pool afterward. If you feel a little burning, apply a topical cortisone cream on the area and get out of the sun, Waibel says. And, if it becomes painful, see your doctor.
Be careful out there, margarita drinkers.
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