It seems innocent enough; cutting up limes to squeeze into your favorite cocktail. But with enough juice on your skin mixed with sun exposure, you’ve got a dangerous combination.
Two weeks ago Morgan Moore squeezed more than 30 limes to make drinks at a barbecue.
“I went under the sink and kind of rinsed it off but I didn’t thoroughly wash it off and then I went out in the sun and I didn’t put any sunscreen on anywhere cause I was only out for 30 minutes,” Moore said.
Almost a day later her hands looked like she’d stuck them in flames.
“It was probably one of the worst pains I’ve ever felt. It was bad,” Moore said.
It’s a common reaction many people are unaware of.
“Well in citrus and in other plants they cause phytophotodermatitis. And what it is is a photosensitizing agent that gets on the skin that makes you more sensitive to the sun,” dermatologist Dr. Timothy Jochen said.
Jochen said with our extreme Southern California sun, the effects can be even more intense than other parts of the country.
“You’ll want to wash your skin off before you go in the pool and of course in this sunny climate you want to wear sunscreen,” Jochen said.
The condition can happen with any citrus juice. However, it’s most common in lime juice.
“With this type of condition you’ll experience some types of burning sensations. Then it’s like a severe sunburn that occurs over the next two to three days. So your skin can turn red, it can start to blister, it can start to peel off. So you want to take this very seriously if you do get it,” Jochen said.
After two weeks of barely being able to use her hands, Moore is back at college and taking every precaution necessary.
“Within like three to six months they should be back to normal. They’ll still be scarring but I’m trying to keep them moisturized and keep using Mederma and vitamin E, all that kind of stuff just to make the skin heal faster,” Moore said.