Think that Poolside Margarita Sounds Good? Think Again

Before you enjoy that poolside margarita, or other fruity cocktails, you should know about this risk.

Before you enjoy that poolside margarita, or other fruity cocktails, you should know about this risk.

Sometimes, there is nothing better than sipping that fresh, cold poolside margarita, but before you do, consider some of these dangers that you might be facing.  You might think that a wicked hangover is the worst problem you’ll be facing, but consider this:  If that fruit juice spills on your skin, and you go in the sun, you might be at risk for chemical burns.

It’s known as phytophotodermatitis, and its when the chemicals in fruits such as celery, lemons and limes cause your skin to become hypersensitive.  According to Michele Green, MD, this reaction is much more common during the warm summer months, when many people are exposed to cocktails that have celery and limes for garnish.  Also, lemon juice is often used to give that sun-kissed look to the locks.

When these juices get onto the skin and aren’t washed off with soapy water, they can cause the skin to react when exposed to the sun.  According to Green, it’s essentially a chemical burn that causes the skin to become sensitive to the sun.

How to tell if it’s happened to you

If you’ve had this situation, you’ll notice within a couple of days.  You might notice irritation and redness, and in the cases that are more severe, you’ll notice blistering, as well.  These can all heal, but it’s also likely that you’ll notice brown spots that show up about a week after exposure, and they can last for many months.  This can happen to any part of the body that had both the juice and the sun on it.  In many cases, people may notice streaks, like lines, from where the juice was spilled.

What to do

What happens if you have been exposed and notice a reaction?  Severe burns that include blistering unquestionably require the help of the doctor.  It’s likely that he or she will give you a hydrocortisone cream, and sometimes your doctor will also give you some kind of bleaching agent to treat hyper-pigmentation, but the spot will eventually go away by itself.  If you just have sunspots and no severe burn, you can get hydrocortisone cream to help it heal.

How to prevent it

In order to keep these burns at bay to begin with, be careful when handling any kind of fruit outdoors, especially limes, lemons and celery, but also be careful of dill, parsnips, parsley and other fruits.  You should avoid mixing drinks if you’re in the sun, and make sure to wash your hands right after you’re done to get rid of any chemicals that might still be on them.

So, maybe you don’t have to skip the poolside margarita, just be careful about the juice of the garnishes you use.

Written by Tony Clark

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