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ABC6 on Sunlight and Citrus: A Spring Break Combination to Avoid


Spring break is fast approaching. If you're dreaming of spending it sitting on the beach, squeezing a lime into your beer, you might want to think again. ABC6 reporter Terri Sullivan spoke with a woman who left her beach vacation with a rash -- all thanks to a mix of sun and citrus. It's called phytophotodermatitis and it's something OhioHealth dermatologist Michael Conroy, MD, says he sees every year after spring break.

A Sun Rash Caused by Citrus Juice

Phytophotodermatitis commonly affects beachside bartenders, because they spend time in the sun mixing drinks with citrus fruits; however, this condition can leave anyone marked.

This sun rash occurs when citrus juice (usually from limes) spills on the skin and is then exposed to sunlight. This rash can be avoided by thoroughly washing your hands after handling citrus, otherwise, the resin can last for days.

Dr. Conroy shares that he sees this sun/citrus rash most often on the thighs and hands. He imagines that many people on spring break are squeezing limes into Coronas, causing the juice to splash over those two body parts. He has also seen this rash on children, which is usually a result of parents helping them to apply sunscreen without first washing their citrus-splashed hands.

While this condition is typically not painful, there is no treatment either – it just takes time. Dr. Conroy shares that this rash will eventually fade, but how long it takes depends on a person’s skin tone. Fair-skinned people may expect to wait for 6-8 months, while darker-skinned people may be looking at a period of 12-18 months.