Limes plus sun = burn
© 2015 Roy Benaroch, MD
If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But if life gives you limes, especially on a sunny day, what you might make is a big, uncomfortable burn.
Limes contain chemicals that can sensitize the skin to the ultraviolet spectrum of ordinary sunlight. It isn’t an allergic phenomenon, though it kind of looks like one. Areas of skin that have touched limes or lime juice and are then exposed to sunlight can react as if it has been burned. The visible reaction starts about 24 hours after the exposure, and is worsened by heat and sweat.
I’ll link to some photos, rather than paste them directly here. Some are icky. The skin reaction is often shaped like drips or a splash, and often affects the hands and upper arms.
The proper name for this reaction is phytophotodermatitis (plant-light-rash). I’ve also seen it called “lime disease” (get it?! And who said dermatologists weren’t funny!) or “margarita sunburn.” Other plants can cause the same reaction, including celery (mmm celery margarita) and several weeds.
If you’re chopping or cutting or squeezing limes, don’t do it in the sun. Do it in the kitchen, then wash your hands with soap and water before you go outside. Don’t let “lime disease” ruin your summer!