BEWARE!!! 2nd Degree Burns From Lime Juice??!!


Yes, you read that right! Lime juice is the cause of this not so lovely burn I am sporting. Ok, well not lime juice alone but lime juice and the sun. I guess I should start from the beginning.

Sunday night after watching the food network, I decided I was going to make carne asada for dinner. Here in Washington state it had been in the 80’s and I wanted to enjoy every minute of it! So when the recipe called for charred veggies for the salsa that went with the carne asada I jumped at the chance to grill. I mean anyone can char it on a grill in the kitchen, but I was going to do it on the BBQ with charcoal. BEST TASTE EVER right? So the first thing I do was get the marinade going for the steak. That part of the recipe calls for 4 limes juiced. I don’t have a juicer so I did it by hand.  Once the marinade was finished I put the meat in and put it in the fridge. I rinsed my hands and started to prep the veggies for the salsa.

After going pack and forth from the house to the BBQ, I had charred veggies and some lovely caramelized fruit for dessert. We all sat down for an amazing dinner. I love trying new recipes and bringing new flavors into my home and my family.

Flash forward to the next day. I had to run my dog to the vet. When I got home I noticed that my hands were a bit sore and getting kinda pink. I’m very light-skinned and figured my time in the car or my short time out side BBQing the night before had caused my hands to become a bit burnt. I didn’t really think much of it. But as the day went on my hands became more and more red and painful. I posted on my FB page how only I could manage to burn the tops of my hands and nothing else.

The next day my hand was bright red and starting to blister. I couldn’t figure out how I had burnt my hand so bad and not known it.  I wasn’t in the sun long enough to do this kind of damage. I was in and out of the sun as I BBQed. So I thought ” Well maybe I burnt my hands while I was driving the dog to the vet” But again the vet is only 5 mins away, so I wasn’t in the sun very long.

So what does a media savvy blogger like me do? GOOGLE IT!!! LOL I spent forever trying to figure out what happened. Then my husband said ” Well maybe it’s from all the limes you juiced?” Hmmmm well maybe, but not likely. I googled it any way. This is when I first discovered the term Lime Burn or Phytophotodermatitis.
This is no joke.

Phytophotodermatitis is an inflammatory reaction of the skin. It occurs after contact with the leaves and stems of certain plants, followed by exposure to sunlight. This illness starts with a burning sensation followed by a red rash, and sometimes blisters. This starts about 24 hours after exposure. The rash gets worse over 1 to 3 days, then symptoms begin to improve. There is usually no itching. The rash is not contagious.

As symptoms improve, the rash may take on a darker or lighter appearance for weeks to months before it fully fades away. Sometimes these color changes are permanent.

This skin reaction is not an allergic or immune reaction but a reaction between the plant substance and the skin cells. Sunlight is necessary to start the reaction. The lining of the skin cells is damaged. The cells die and flake off (like a bad sunburn).

The plants causing this reaction are found throughout the U.S. and the world. Plants include meadow grass, parsley, carrots, parsnip, celery, limes, fig leaves, lemon, mustard, and chrysanthemums.

Treatment involves washing the skin to remove any remaining plant oils, avoiding sun during the acute phase of the rash, and treating symptoms.

My doctor told me that I basically nuked my skin. The lime juice messed with the pigment in my skin turning it albino, with absolutely no protection from the sun. So even though I wasn’t in the sun for very long it doesn’t take much. Here is a news video I found about it. I can’t believe that I have never heard of this. So I figured with the warm weather of sun and the lime in the Coronas, I should sound the alarms! I don’t wish this on anyone. It really feels like a chemical burn not a sun burn. Much more painful. Maybe I’m just now hearing about it because I’m in Washington and we don’t get a lot of hot days or maybe it’s just not common knowledge. Either way you know now. Your welcome lol I’m still healing and this post took me all day to get typed up. I’m still taking meds for pain but have been able to take less so I must be feeling better.

Here are the progression pictures up to today 5/9. I hope that it won’t get any worse and I’m on the mend. Fingers also crossed that no infection sets in.

PicMonkey Collage1

PicMonkey Collage2

Comments (31)

  • That is awful! I hope your hand is starting to heal now. I had not heard about this up until now! Thank you for sharing.

    Carla D
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  • WOW, i have never heard of this before! I hope you are feeling better. And thanks for letting me know I would never imaged lime juice on your skin could do so much damage in bright sunlight

  • Wow! I’ve never heard of this before either. I hope your rash has gone away and that you are feeling better. I’ve never had a reaction like this, although I do have to say that whenever I juice limes or lemons, my hands get itchy. I’ve never had a rash though.

  • Ouch, ouch, ouch! I would never have thought of something like this. Thank you for sharing and I hope you heal up soon and completely.

  • I had never heard of this, hope you get healed up and feeling better soon.

  • That is unreal! Hope you feel better soon, thanks for sharing!

  • One week ago today I was sitting out in the sun with fresh lime juice it my hair. I had spilt it all over but it’s just lime juice no biggie. Wednesday night my leg was kinda sore, Thursday morning it looked like I’d bumped a tail pipe. Now it’s Tuesday and the back of my knee, across my shin and thigh are sporting burns. Saw 2 doctors, neither of them knew what it was. Posted on fb hoping for an answer (by the way I’m an RN so I got some jabs about it) but finally someone recognized it. Limes?!?

    Christina sorte
  • So yeah… Spent the vacation on the beach in Charleston. I made Guacamole for 14 people on the beach! I used 4 limes that I squeezed by hand. That was 2 weeks ago and I still have what I thought was a Sun Burn, it looks terriable. It is sore and sensitive but never hurt really bad. I am afraid my skin will be discolored for the rest of my life. The entire back of my hand has peeled off,is still bright red and bumpy. Weird. I was starting to think I swam with a jelly fish, but no… it was the limes!

  • So I’ve been following this for awhile. What is mind boggling is – how many shampoos have “citrus” ingredients. ???. I.e. if not lime, at least that means lemon. So you wash your hair, then go out into the sun??? The UV reacts with the oils and does a kamakaze on your skin. A serious one. And I watch movies from decades ago when everyone seems to like – have hair. Look around these days? Big difference. And around the time they started putting “citrus”, into shampoos. And dish washing detergent. So there is the slight hand rash issue. A question is – do the manufacturers actually not know about this lime/UV skin disorder condition – which would be bad – or worse – do they know and look forward to selling even more hair “conditioners” like, because of it? There is one real big collective class action lawsuit waiting on this one. But it is kind of serious…I think…

    William Whittingham
  • I ended up w/burns & now blisters on both hands, couldn’t figure it out until my sister in law came over and had it on her hand too. We figured out the only thing we both touched over the weekend was a lot of limes! Found info online and were both relieved to figure it out. What can you do for it though? She was put on a steroid!

  • @Dana you can’t do anything for it. My doc gave me Tylenol 3 for pain and would have also given me a steroid but I’m nursing, so that is a no-no. The Steroid it to make sure you don’t get any secondary infections from the burn healing. It also helps aid the healing process. I hope that answers your questions 😀

  • Thanks!

  • I had never heard of this before….hence my second degree burns all over my hands from squeezing limes for margaritas the going to the beach with the fresh smell of citrus on my hands:(. I have no mobility in my hands and they have swelled double their normal size, not to mention the massive blisters all over, especially between my fingers!!

  • I too underwent this extremely painful experience. It affected my abdomen, legs, chest, arms and hands. The blisters were awful. This happened to me two weeks ago and although the blisters have subsided, the affected areas are all a different pigment. I don’t wish this on anyone and I’m very happy you shared this important information!

  • This just happened to my nine month old daughter! My mom was watching her and also making a cake with coconut LIME filling. Baby got into something, my mom grabbed her arm to pull her away without washing her hands. Shortly after I came back and went and played outside with the kiddos. The next day she has these weird marks on her arm. Three doctors later we finally figured it out! It is a hand print. Not super distinct but if you know what to look for you can see it. Crazy!

  • My 15 month had what appeared to be the beginning of thrush onthe inside of her upper lip…took her to the dr, they swabbed and tested her. Not thrush… all we can figure is that the night before we went to a mexican restaurant and my adventurous eater daughter started sucking on a lime. She didn’t like it but kept doing it cuz it made her grandpa laugh (she’s a total ham) limes are kinda scary….

  • I had never heard of such a thing until my sister called me to tell me my newfew’s son had lime burns I thought we had a bad connection but she spelled it out and the I looked it up . My god people need to get the word out there cause this a painful burn that can easily be avoid if one is only told, I pray a fast a speedy recovery for all who have this avoidable injury god speed.

  • I saw this on all the news stations today, and I googled it and your site came up first. I too live in south eastern Washington State where we are in the high desert over here. So it’s often pushing 100 and very dry and sunny. Being fair skinned I’m glad you listed the items that could cause this. I’ve been severely burned by the high dry sun of Colorado before and if you equate this being worse than a blistered sunburn. I will take the information you’ve posted to heart.. thank you!

  • This happened to my 10-yr old son and his best friend this week after squeezing about 20 limes from our backyard for limeade followed by going to the swimming pool. I am using the following cycle: cortisone 10 with cooling agent, followed by bacitracin zinc ointment, followed by ice packs and no movement of the hands about every 4 hrs. Ibuprofen for pain and swelling every 6 hours. So far, just a few blisters 2 days after.

  • I wonder, would putting lime juice all over a solar panel produce higher power output?

  • That is such an awesome comment. 😀

  • I too found this out the hard way.

    I squeezed around 4 or 5 limes to make a huge jug of rum punch, The next day, my hands were bright red and swolen. Gradually, my skin broke out in tiny pin prick sized blisters.

    One month on, I have dark pigmentation marks all over my hands. I have been told to apply E45 rigourously, and have a steroid cream to apply for the pinky area whcih doesn’t seem to do much. Apparently, it will be a good several months before my hands are normal.

    I hate my hands, it’s really knocked my confidence. Stupid rum punch.

    Cat Westwood
  • I put lime on everything and when I did in Cabo last week my plate was on my lap and the next day I woke up with red marks no pain until 2 days later!! Crazy I didn’t even realize the lime got on my skin.

    Karla Barnes
  • I just got the same. Now my hand getting better.

    Ida kade Budiantara
  • I had the same thing happen to me! But I made mojitos and then was at the pool. My dermatologist told me it’s not actually the juice that causes the rash but the oil that comes from the rind and then contact with the sun. Very interesting!

  • I have phytophotodermatitis on my legs from the knees down from a pedicure where they rubbed limes on my legs and feet, then I went to the park in the sun. It has been 4 weeks and the pigmentation is so terrible- can you please tell me how long it took for your pigmentation to return to normal? This is so terrible- it looks like I’m wearing purplish-brown knee socks!!!

  • It took a couple of months for the red to go away. I can still see the scars today though. But if you didnt know what you were looking for you wouldnt see them.

  • Thanks for your fast reply. Did you find any treatments that helped with the pigmentation?

  • No not really. I kept my hands wrapped the first few day. After a couple weeks they peeled from the blisters and burns. It just took time.

  • Seven days ago I made ceviche on the boat, and then paddleboard for two days, just figured out this is more than a sunburn!! Using essential oils to heal, lavender(soothing), melaleuca(stave off infection), Heliachrysm(scarring) , Frankincense(anti-inflammatory), also a little cortisone cream and Advil the first few days! Hope it goes away soon!!

    Vana Kate

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