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Red or irritated skin after drinking something citrus outside? Here's What Derms What You Need To Know About 'Margarita Dermatitis'

Jimmy Buffet sang it best in his timeless bop, "Margaritaville": But there's liquor in the blender, and soon it'll be making this ice-cold concoction that helps me hang on. There's something about summer that just screams for an ice-cold drink with a wedge of lime on that side. But if you're spending the day in the sun with that jelly strip (or even a blank version of it), know that dermatologists want you to know an important word: phytophotodermatitis.

This mouthful of a word obviously wouldn't fit in a Buffet song, but dermatologist Snehal Amin, MD, says it's still a term worth noting when the UV Index is high. "Phytophotodermatitis occurs when light causes a skin reaction," says Dr. Amin. "The prefix 'phyto-' means plant, so a phytophotodermatitis is a rash caused by a combination of a plant and sunlight. The most common example of this is margarita dermatitis. Yes, you read that right: “margarita dermatitis”.

Now, let's be clear. You're not going to get margarita dermatitis from sipping on a margarita. Citrus has to come into contact with the skin to cause any sort of reaction, so you're much more likely to get this skin irritation if you're bartending for your friends and end up accidentally squirting lime juice on your arm or hands. And it's not just a margarita problem - you can also suffer from phytophotodermatitis when other plants (such as celery, other citrus fruits, figs, grass, certain weeds and bergamot oil) touch your skin and then come into contact with UV rays.

"It's a reaction that can occur as a result of the interaction of furocoumarins, which can be present in some plants and usually citrus fruits, and UV exposure," says Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist . "It often appears as a linear or irregular looking patch that may appear red or brown and may be associated with blistering. Although it may initially appear red within the first 24 hours after exposure, it may lead to hyperpigmentation which may not be noticed for days or weeks after initial exposure.

According to Dr. Garshick, days at the beach aren't the only summer pleasures that can lead to phytophotodermatitis. People who enjoy spending time outdoors, such as runners or hikers, tend to be exposed to both plants and the sun, and are therefore more susceptible to this skin irritation. Additionally, people whose careers expose them to plants and/or UV rays (like chefs, farmhands, or bartenders) will also need to be a bit more mindful than, say, someone who only drinks occasionally. outdoor margarita.

Generally speaking, anyone can avoid dermatitis by washing the citrus splattered area with soap and water before going outside. But if you want to be in addition To be on the safe side, esthetician Kerry Benjamin, founder of StackedSkincare, recommends avoiding foods containing furocoumarin altogether. “Stay away from citrus fruits and plants that can cause it. For example, I never sit on the grass. I know my skin will react immediately because I'm allergic to weed and it causes phytophotodermatitis on my skin,” says Benjamin. Over time, you may become more aware of plants' reactions to the sun that make your own skin unhappy, and you can make safe decisions from there.

As Dr. Garshick mentioned, however, margarita dermatitis is usually mild and should go away on its own within a few weeks. That said, if you're worried about your case of margarita dermatitis, you can always check your dermis. Now back to Margaritaville.

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