JUL 27, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

Lime Disease: How Citrus Chemicals Could Give You Blisters

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

So it turns out that blistery skin rash you got after that beach vacation isn't a coincidence at all. In fact, if you've been squeezing limes into your tropical cocktails at the beach, it's could be that you have "lime disease."

Because the condition is so commonly associated with the intense beach sun and fun cocktails, it's also known as "Mexican beer dermatitis," "Margarita dermatitis," and "Club Med dermatitis." But the official name for this condition is phytophotodermatitis.

Not to be confused with the tick-borne illness Lyme disease, the citrus version is caused by chemicals found in limes, reacting to the sun's ultraviolet rays. The zest and juice in limes and lemons are rich in a chemical known as furanocourmarin. When activated by sunlight, this chemical leads to damage to DNA. As a plant's defense mechanism, it's pretty clever. But for you and your skin, the blistery rash is no fun at all. Fortunately, to avoid a rash souvenir, just make sure you wash away the offending citrus chemicals off your skin before laying out on the beach.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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