A Tricky Rash to Watch Out for on Vacation!

This margarita looks fairly innocent, but did you know that it can cause a rash called phytophotodermatitis?

It’s quite a long word, but if you break it down, it literally means dermatitis (skin inflammation) from plants and sun. What happens in phytophotodermatitis is that when a certain ingredient (it could be a citrus fruit, certain weeds, or even celery!) comes in contact with your skin, it causes the area to become very sun sensitive. A rash develops in the area in the exact same pattern in which the offending agent came in contact with the skin. For example, if you were squeezing limes, you may get red patches between your thumb and forefinger in a splash type pattern. This red rash then turns into brown patches and lightens over time.

This rash is neat and makes us appear super smart 😉 – if someone has a linear rash on the side of their cheek we might say, ‘were you sipping a Bloody Mary poolside with a tall piece of celery that rubbed against your cheek?’ The answer is inevitably, ‘How did you know?’

How to avoid phytophotodermatitis? The best way is to avoid contact with the offending agents, but also to rinse the area well if your skin does come in contact with one of the sun sensitizing culprits.

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