It's safe to say that everyone has squeezed a lemon or lime by hand before, right? No harm in squeezing a little citrus!
Well...it's not exactly harmless. In fact, citrus + sunshine can end up causing you some serious grief.
With summer just around the corner, we want you to learn from our mistakes and tell you about a little something called phytophotodermatitis, a reaction caused by plant chemicals that produce an inflammatory response in the skin when it's exposed to sunlight. In other words, lime juice + sunlight = blisters and burns.
Many people have made the tragic mistake of handling citrus and then going outside for a long period of time, which is how this reaction forms. This can happen if you're making margaritas or lemonade outdoors, or even just by squeezing a little lime in your Corona.
We spoke to Dr. Joyce Park, a board-certified dermatologist in California, and Dr. Brittany Craiglow, a Connecticut-based dermatologist, in order to get a clearer understanding of this weird skin reaction and how you can go about treating it.
Phytophotodermatitis is a rash that "occurs when chemical compounds called furocoumarins interact with UVA radiation from the sun," Dr. Park told BuzzFeed.
According to Dr. Craiglow, the most common ways people get this rash are from "drinking lemonade, margaritas, and Corona with lime. You can also get this from handling parsley, parsnips, celery, fig, and a few others."
So, how long does it take to heal? Dr. Craiglow said, "It is pretty common for the inflammatory stage to be subtle, so people only notice the pigmentation that follows, which is often in streaks or stripes, depending on the cause. It can take weeks or months to resolve."
The good news is this whole thing is totally preventable! "Washing hands with soap and water should be sufficient to remove the chemical that creates the reaction," Dr. Craiglow said.
But just in case phytophotodermatitis DOES happen to you, they told us how to treat it. "You can use over-the-counter hydrocortisone or a prescription-strength steroid ointment from your doctor to help the healing process," Dr. Park said.
The most bonkers thing about phytophotodermatitis is that most people don't even realize that THIS IS A THING THAT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. So, we hope we've given you enough knowledge to stay safe this summer!
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