When margaritas attack


Ah, summertime. What could be better than sipping margaritas by the pool, enjoying a Southside on the deck, or imbibing a non-alcoholic Cherry-lime cooler in the garden? But these carefree moments could prove painful, because all of these refreshing summer drinks and others that contain lime juice can leave you with a nasty burn if you're not careful.

Apparently the oils in limes (and other citrus) can react with ultraviolet rays to produce a wicked, long-lasting chemical burn. The condition is called 'phytophotodermatitis', aka margarita dermatitis. People sometimes mistake it for a bad sunburn or poison ivy. It happens when you spill a drink on yourself or otherwise come into contact with the oils and don't thoroughly wash the affected area before being exposed to UV (shaking your hand or blotting with a napkin doesn't count). The article shows the graphic results of the burns, which can happen to anyone, regardless of your skin color or level of tanning.

The burns can be quite painful, and the pain can persist for several days. The skin discoloration (called hyperpigmentation) lasts far longer, up to several weeks or even a few months. While limes are frequently the cause of these burns, other plants that contain similar oils, such as citrus, celery, wild dill, wild parsley, and some wildflowers, can also produce the damaging effect. The best way to avoid phytophotodermatitisis to thoroughly wash any skin that is exposed to these compounds with soap and water to remove the oils. Enjoy the summer, but be sure to drink carefully!

Photo of Ultimate margarita from The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appétit by Adam Rapoport


  • Nancith  on  6/11/2016 at 10:52 AM

    You learn something new every day!

  • manycookbooks  on  6/11/2016 at 11:01 AM

    Wow....living in the Southwest, my husband and I frequently enjoy Margaritas, but I have a whole new respect for them now! They may look innocent, but lurking below that cooling concoction is a predator just waiting to get you!

Post a comment

You may only comment on the blog if you are signed in. Sign In

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!