Many people have experienced a burning sensation around their mouths after eating pineapple, but did you know that certain fruits and vegetables can also burn your skin? Some produce, like limes, can make your skin hypersensitive to UV light. After squeezing some limes or spilling a margarita on your lap, even a little bit of exposure to the sun could give you a second degree burn.

They call it phytophotodermatitis. It may sound complicated, but to understand the condition, you just have to think back to middle school biology. Certain fruits and vegetables contain photosynthesizing chemicals. When exposed to sun, these chemicals turn the light into chemical energy. If this reaction occurs on your skin, you end up with nasty burns.


Photo courtesy of @hellsbells313 on Instagram

These burns are usually caused by lime, which is also a common ingredient in many of our favorite summer drinks. In fact, phytophotodermatitis often appears in a drip pattern on people’s arms after they squeeze limes. However, people should know that lemons, oranges, carrots, parsnips, parsley, celery, figs, and wild dill can also cause these types of burns. 

The effects of these burns don’t show up for a few days and can range from mild irritation to second degree burns with blisters. The more juice or sun exposure, the worse the burn. Once the burn fades, it leaves behind itchy brown spots that can last for weeks to months.


Photo by Jessica Kelly

Although cases are rarely reported in the media, dermatologists warn that this condition is surprisingly common and can be highly dangerous. A few years ago, several girls even ended up in ICU after receiving incredibly painful second degree burns from phytophotodermatitis.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to completely give up margaritas by the beach. You just need to be careful about it. Just make sure to immediately wash off any lime juice (or residue from other offending produce) with soap and water. It may be annoying, but your skin will thank you.