Mixing lime drinks and sun could give you margarita dermatitis, doctor says

HOUSTON – Adding a slice of lime to a drink is almost essential to margaritas and Coronas but there's one big health problem you're exposing yourself to.

"Margarita dermatitis refers to the fact that when people are exposed to lime juice along with sun exposure, it can cause a reaction," said Dr. Rajani Katta. a  professor of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine.

The condition can be burning, inflammatory and leave dark spots for months. Usually it goes away, so Katta says she only treats a few patients, but knows it's happening frequently.

"So if you have a wedge of lime in your margarita and you get some of that on your skin, you could have an issue. What's also an issue is when people are chopping limes, and this is something I've seen from several patients, people are outdoors preparing food or marinade at a picnic and as you're chopping limes they may get that juice on their skin and that may trigger a reaction," Katta said.

While the compound that burns your skin is strongest in limes, there are other citrus fruits that contain the same thing.

"Limes tend to have a higher concentration of this particular plant compound called furocoumarins, so oranges tend to have less but they still might have some," Katta said. 

Katta says treatment is similar to treating a poison ivy rash: Cool compresses and hydrocortisone creams should do it, but preventative action is best. Be aware of what plant products you come in contact with and wash the area thoroughly before going out in the sun.