margarita burn

Dreaming about celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a lime margarita by the pool? If you’re not careful, you might end up with more than just a hangover—you could develop a nasty rash.

When life hands you limes, don’t squeeze them outdoors. The so-called “margarita rash” is a skin condition that can occur when a chemical compound found in limes interacts with sunlight. Dr. Andrew Newman of Phoenix-area Affiliated Dermatology shares more on this unusual condition.

“Whenever you spill a margarita (or just lime juice) on your hand … and then that skin comes into contact with the sunlight you can develop this type of rash. The rash could cause scarring, but that’s rare. The rash that develops is quite itchy at first and then it might get irritated and painful, potentially turn a dark red on your skin,” he said.

It’s not just lime juice that can cause the condition, known medically as phytophotodermatitis. Other citrus fruits and celery also contain the compounds, furanocoumarins, that don’t mix well with sunlight.

“Bartenders commonly get this, (also) people who are picking limes off of a tree in their backyard, or those who are out on spring break and making cocktails for themselves for recreation,” Newman said.

You can avoid the rash by being careful when mixing those drinks and staying out of the sunlight after handling limes.

“If you’ve already developed a rash and you’re needing some relief, you just want to get a little cortisone cream over the counter,” Newman said. “Use it a couple of times a day and you’ll get some relief.”

If symptoms persist, contact a dermatologist.

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