Your Summer Cocktails Could Cause This Skin Condition

Your Summer Cocktails Could Cause This Skin Condition

Ever heard of ‘margarita dermatitis’? Not many people have, and I’m sure it’s got you hooked. Also known as phytophotodermatitis, it can happen when you spill a citric drink on yourself while on holiday…

The condition is a reaction that usually looks like sunburn or poison ivy rash, with redness and swelling as well as blistering when your skin comes into contact with a certain plant compound. In the summer, it’s usually lime juice is the most common cause - hence earning it the fond margarita nickname given by doctors.

The same compound is also found in plants such as celery, parsley and even Queen Anne’s Lace. Scratches from branches, airborne particles and even fruit drippings serve as sources of exposure. But it’s not just the plants that are the issue: exposing the skin to the combination of the plant compound and the sun causes the condition, as it makes that one area light sensitive.

Exposure can come from fruit drippings, scratches from branches or airborne particles. “It’s not just the plant that causes the condition,” Katta said. “The skin must be exposed to both the plant compound and the sun.

Thankfully the treatment is similar to poison ivy rash - it simply requires cold compresses, hydrocortisone creams as well as oral antihistamines. But it’s no joke: even after treatment, a darkened patch appears for 8-12 months and as streaks on your arms and neck. So the next time you have kids out in the sun drinking lemonade, be careful: this dermatitis can be a scar that lasts for a long time. Stay safe!

Share this

Dr Pena

About The Author

Dr. Pena is a Board-Certified Medical Dermatologist, Mohs skin cancer surgeon, and cosmetic dermatologist. Her mission is to educate the diverse patient populations she serves, and their communities, on the importance of skin care in decreasing the risk of skin cancer and minimizing the early signs of aging. She founded Skin Solutions Dermatology with numerous clinics in Nashville, Tennessee and surrounding Middle Tennessee.

Dr. Julia Pena, MD