For many people, summer days in El Paso are best spent soaking up some sun while enjoying an ice cold beverage. Some like to enjoy a fresh squeezed lime in their drink. Did you know that there is a chemical reaction involving the sun and lime juice that can result in a skin rash?

It is called phytophotodermatitis (PPD) and it is defined as:

an inflammatory reaction of skin that has been exposed to sunlight and especially UVA radiation after being made hypersensitive by contact with any of various plants or plant parts and especially those (as limes and celery) with high levels of psoralens and that is typically characterized by a burning sensation, blisters, and erythema followed by hyperpigmentation

My wife, Karen experienced this first hand last week after spending some time by the pool. She was enjoying a cold beverage and then she squeezed a lime into her drink. Rather than wash her hands, she wiped the lime juice on her leg. A few days later she noticed a rash on her left leg. This first photo was taken three days after the incident.

Three days after wiping lime juice on her leg. Photo by Karen Kaplowitz

At that point, she sent a photo of her leg to her mom, a registered nurse, who recommended that my wife schedule an appointment with her physician. Over the next few days, the marks on her leg started to get darker. If you look closely, you can actually see her hand impression with the lime juice on her leg.

Five days after wiping lime juice on her leg. Photo by Karen Kaplowitz.
Six days after wiping lime juice on her leg. Photo by Karen Kaplowitz.

Once my wife was able to see her dermatologist, the discussion went from serious to lighthearted once the doctor explained the process of PPD and how it works specifically with lime juice. The good news is that there is no serious health risk to PPD. However, the downside is that the rash might not fade away until months from now.

The next time you are outside and squeezing a lime into your favorite beverage, whatever you do, please do not wipe the juice on your skin.

What Are the Signature Drinks From Every State?