Most people are well aware of the dangers of Lyme disease and the precautions necessary to prevent catching it. But few have heard of a rare skin condition that some refer to as “lime disease,” and most people don’t know that it can be caught by simply having a little summer fun.
Others call it “margarita dermatitis,” but the technical name for it is phytophotodermatitis, and it is a toxic skin reaction that occurs when juices from certain fruits mix with sunlight. A Jacksonville, Florida, man learned about it the hard way recently.
Aaron Peers was squeezing limes and mixing margaritas for friends on Sunday before Memorial Day, WTLV News reports. He said in an interview (shown below) that he had no idea getting the citrus juice all over his hands and arms, while he was outside, could be dangerous.
But he woke up Tuesday with a blister on his hand and went to an emergency room. Doctors there diagnosed him with second-degree burns but they still didn’t know what caused it.
It’s unclear exactly how Peers finally discovered it was the lime juice that caused his reaction but, he said, the pattern on his skin suggests it was the Sunday margarita mixing that did it.
"If you can imagine when I was actually squeezing the limes how the juice might run over and it got up my arm,” he said.
Dr. Douglas Robins, a Jacksonville dermatologist, looked at pictures of Peers’ hands and arms and confirmed it looked like a case of phytophotodermatitis.
“That’s pretty severe," he told WTLV. "It’s a little bit more severe than what I typically see."
The north Florida dermatologist said he sees about 12 cases a year.
Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist who spoke with Women’s Health about the condition two years ago, said few people are aware of what causes it.
Green said the reaction is caused when chemicals — found most typically in limes, lemons and celery — get on the skin and the skin is exposed to sunlight.
“It’s basically like a chemical burn because it makes them sun sensitive,” she said.
And it’s pretty easy to diagnose.
“Usually the cue is linear streaks from where they poured or spilled lime juice,” Green said. “Or if they were squeezing lemon on their hair, they may see brown streaks on their faces.”
Parsnips, dill and parsley are also known culprits, she said, adding that prevention is the best cure.
“Don’t mix drinks while in the sun, and wash hands immediately so there are no traces of chemicals on them,” Green said.
Photo Credit: Screen shot from YouTube