Skip To Content

    These Graphic Pictures Show What Can Happen If You Go Outside After Handling Limes

    Think twice before making that margarita outside!

    by ,

    It's safe to say that everyone has squeezed a lemon or lime by hand before, right? No harm in squeezing a little citrus!

    Luckybusiness / Getty Images's not exactly harmless. In fact, citrus + sunshine can end up causing you some serious grief.

    Farrah Penn / BuzzFeed

    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.

    Farrah Penn / BuzzFeed

    This was Farrah's hand after she made some margaritas with lime then hung out at the beach!

    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.

    Farrah Penn / BuzzFeed

    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.

    Farrah Penn / BuzzFeed

    Yes, that is a huge blister. Yes, it was incredibly painful.

    Phytophotodermatitis is a rash that "occurs when chemical compounds called furocoumarins interact with UVA radiation from the sun," Dr. Park told BuzzFeed.

    Getty Images

    "Furocoumarins are found in citrus fruits, weeds, celery, oil of bergamot (commonly used in perfumes), figs, and other foods. Phytophotodermatitis due to citrus fruits presents with a characteristic drip or splatter pattern, where the rash appears as linear streaks in the pattern that the citrus fruit juice dripped down the skin."

    Both doctors said these rashes are generally non-threatening. But for some people, the reaction can be extremely uncomfortable. "If someone's skin is super sensitive and they get a bad case of phytophotodermatitis, they may develop a serious blistering rash..." Dr. Park said.

    Collin Bukowski

    Daniella's friend Collin made some tacos using lime, then went on a two-hour walk outside. A few hours later, his hand started blistering.

    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."

    Getty Images

    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."

    Collin Bukowski

    We would like to add that Farrah's hands did not heal until almost two months after the reaction showed up, and Collin's hand is still really discolored after two weeks. The above photo is what his hand looked like a week after the initial rash formed.

    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.

    Getty Images

    Since we're in the midst of a pandemic, we don't wanna hear any excuses about you forgetting to do this! Despite washing her hands after squeezing limes, Farrah's skin still had this it might be wise to wash for a bit longer if you have super sensitive skin?

    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.

    Getty Images

    Dr. Craiglow added, "Topical corticosteroids (hydrocortisone creams) can be helpful in the early stage where the rash is red. Afterwards, sunscreen and protective clothing can help the pigmentation to darken further; otherwise, patience and time are most important."

    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!

    Want to be the first to see product recommendations, style hacks, and beauty trends? Sign up for our As/Is newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form