Whether frozen or on ice, a margarita can be a refreshing summer cocktail, but it can lead to more than a potential hangover. A drizzle of citrus juice on sun-exposed skin can soon cause a nasty burn called phytophotodermatitis, sometimes called margarita dermatitis. This happens when a photosensitizing compound in linden called furocoumarin, found in parsley, dill, celery, and some other herbs, among other citrus fruits, is activated by ultraviolet A light (UVA) and causes redness within hours.
Itchy red blisters or patches may develop on your skin, and symptoms are worst within two to three days. Since only areas of your skin that come in direct contact with the lemon juice are affected, redness may appear as drops, lines, or other irregular patterns. As the blisters heal, your skin may darken (hyperpigment) – it may take months for this effect to go away. Ask your doctor about using a topical steroid cream and cold compress to relieve pain.
To help prevent margarita dermatitis, wash your hands after handling limes and immediately wash your skin with citrus juice if you’re in the sun, even if you’re applying sunscreen, as you can still burn yourself. “Sunscreen doesn’t protect against UVA [as it does],” says Bruce Robinson, MD, a board-certified adult and pediatric dermatologist and professor of clinical dermatology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City .