Margarita Sunburns are Seriously Scary


A note to people enjoying margaritas outside this summer you may want to be extra careful not to spill anything on your skin.

Really, really careful.

If you’re thinking about making a batch of Margaritas or Caipirinhas before heading out to the beach or pool this summer, you might want to think again. Lime juice can create a serious chemical burn called phytophotodermatitis (also known as lime burn or Margarita burn) when it mixes with UV rays. Limes aren’t the only culprit, though. Oils from all citrus fruits, celery, parsley and even certain wildflowers can cause the reaction too.

Fresh fruit on raw wood shot with shallow depth of field in daylight

“Anyone who gets a relative amount of [citrus] oil or liquid from the plant on their skin and then gets an adequate amount of UV light will get the reaction,” Dr. Dawn Davis, board-certified dermatologist with the Mayo Clinic, told BuzzFeed. That means that even a small amount, like the oil that’s transferred to your skin just by squeezing a lime into a bottle of beer, can cause a reaction in any skin type or color.

If it gets on your skin, lime juice in the sun can cause burns, although, “The severity obviously depends on the amount of juice from the lime that is on your skin and amount of time that is there. It is best to avoid this at all costs,” says Elisabeth Thieriot, a skincare expert, who founded Replete Skincare.

Most people don’t notice the burns right away. In most cases, you don’t see the burns until a couple of days have gone by. “At times, they last up to several weeks or even months with an unattractive appearance. Something as simple as drinking a margarita can cause this if the drink splashes on your hand and you don’t immediately wipe it off with a wet towel or napkin. Usually topical or oral steroids can reduce the blistering and inflammation to go down. If this happens, please make sure to get it treated – as in some cases hyperpigmentation can occur,” says Thieriot.


The burns can take a few days to develop and normally cause painful, itchy blisters and red patches that last for several weeks or even months. Even after healing, the affected skin often remains discolored and dark brown. Because the burns show up where the juice touches your skin, they normally look like dribbles, drips or even handprints.

Luckily, the burns can be easily prevented. Before going out into the sun, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands—and any other skin they might have touched—after handling citrus fruit, and be sure to rinse your lips if you drink a citrusy cocktail in the sunshine. If you spill your drink, be sure to immediately rinse off your skin as well as any clothing that got wet. If you do find yourself with burns, treat them with hydrocortisone cream. If your burns are severe or get worse over time, see a physician as soon as possible.

What an evil world we live in when margaritas and sunshine, two of our favorite parts of summer, become a potential danger to our health.

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September 8, 2016 |

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