Warning: This will ruin your summer.
Well this just looks damn delicious, doesn’t it?
Don’t you want to go to there?
Too bad no one ever told you that lime juice + skin + sun = a nightmare.
And no, it’s not because you get all wasted and then injure yourself (though, sure, that might happen too). This is actually a crazy chemical reaction that not many people know about…until it happens to them.
It’s called phytophotodermatitis, and it happens when your skin is exposed to both lime juice and UV rays.
SO MUCH OUCH.
Check out the poor hands of BuzzFeed’s Farrah Penn, who thought she’d do a nice thing like make margaritas and spend some time outside.
I sadly did the exact same thing last summer. This is why we can’t have nice things.
Phytophotodermatitis is a reaction that happens when oil or dander from certain plants gets on your skin and then that’s exposed to UV light, which results in a chemical burn.
Also sometimes called “margarita dermatitis” or “lime disease” or “that disgusting thing that happened after last year’s BBQ.”
And it can happen to everyone — regardless of your skin type or color. “Anyone who gets a relative amount of oil or liquid from the plant on their skin and then gets an adequate amount of UV light will get the reaction,” Dr. Dawn Davis, board-certified dermatologist with the Mayo Clinic, tells BuzzFeed Life.
Most people mistake it for poison ivy, poison oak, or just a really weird sunburn. But tell a dermatologist you were drinking or cooking outside and they’ll know exactly what it is. My own derm took one look at my scorched hands and asked, “Ah, Corona?” “Um, fresh margaritas actually, CAN I LIVE?!”
But limes aren’t the only culprit — the oils are also found in other citrus fruits, celery, wild parsnip, wild dill, wild parsley, and some wild flowers.
Nope nope nope nope nope.
The best way to avoid is it know that it exists and wash off thoroughly whenever you’re exposed to this stuff.
So if you touch ANY citrus fruit or wild plants and know you’ll be exposed to sunlight, WASH YOURSELF THOROUGHLY. Like, soap and water that shit up. And if you got it on your hands and then possibly touched your face or legs or whatever, wash that, too! THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
That means limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, celery… basically any delicious mixer or garnish in any drink you’re sipping on a rooftop this summer. And if you’re hiking or camping anywhere near some weird plants, be very cautious of what you come in contact with. Plus, you should just be careful with any prolonged sun exposure and always wear sunscreen in general.
So what if you accidentally slip up and notice THIS?
If you notice a mild reaction (some redness, burning, or swelling), Davis suggests applying a 1% hydrocortisone cream 2-3 times a day. If it’s more severe (deeper red, very swollen, lots of blistering or skin eroding), see your doctor ASAP to get a prescription-strength cream. Keep in mind that some reactions may start mild and get worse, so if the hydrocortisone cream isn’t helping, go to your doctor.
OK… You messed up and it’s bad. What can you expect?
The inflammatory stage (when your skin basically hates you and HURTS) can last from 1-5 days, but it can be longer if the reaction is severe or if you have a lot of blisters. Then comes the hyperpigmentation stage which can last for weeks to months. This typically doesn’t hurt, but the skin can change color where the reaction occurred. Don’t worry, it’ll go back to normal eventually.
SO, if your summer plans involve margaritas, Coronas with lime, citrus fruits, or any off-trail hiking, WASH UP IMMEDIATELY.