Beware This Weird Summer Malady: 'Margarita Burn'

Wash up after slicing those limes
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2016 6:03 PM CDT

(Newser) – Maybe bartenders deserve hazard pay—especially if they're mixing margaritas in the sun. After all, those are the perfect conditions for a case of phytophotodermatitis—a nasty chemical burn, according to the Atlantic, that can result from a combination of lime juice on the skin and sun exposure. Colloquial names for the condition include margarita dermatitis, lime disease, and, per BuzzFeed, “that disgusting thing that happened after last year’s BBQ.” So-called "margarita burn" can result from contact with other plants, such as carrots, parsley, and other citrus fruits, according to Today, but it's most common in connection with limes. The juices and oils from those plants contain photosensitizers, the Atlantic explains, "which make human skin extra-sensitive to sunlight. When an affected spot is overexposed, it burns."

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Just ask bartender Justin Fehntrich. He helped squeeze about 100 limes during an outdoor fundraiser. "That was a huge mistake," he tells the Atlantic. Second-degree burns popped up on his hand a few days after the event. An official with the US Bartenders' Guild says that, with the "big commitment to using fresh juices" in drinks these days, bartenders should be warned about the risk of phytophotodermatitis. And Fehntrich confirms that if he had known about margarita burn, he would have opted out of cutting those limes. So how is phytophotodermatitis treated? Just like any other run-of-the-mill burn caused by direct heat, per the Atlantic. Depending on the severity, a burn expert tells the magazine, that can range from moisturizer and sunscreen to draining blisters, bacitracin, and bandages. Or, avoid the condition altogether by thoroughly washing your hands after slicing limes. (Phytophotodermatitis put a damper on this couple's honeymoon.)

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