Note: This article contains graphic images that may disturb some readers.
Adam Levy was outside squeezing limes as he prepared for his daughter’s graduation party when he began feeling nauseous and dizzy. Even more, it looked like he had a bad case of sunburn on his hand.
“I noticed I had some sunburn on my hand and thought it was odd. It started off as a small blistering and turned into this really large, lymph-filled blister that was the size of half a peach. […]
The skin was really tight and it went from a stinging, burning sensation to itching all around the edges of it. The next day it was blistering and it seemed like I was having an allergic reaction, as well as feeling dizzy, nauseated and my tongue swelling.”
The Daily Mail reports that the 52-year-old father did have a nasty, second-degree burn on his hand — but it wasn’t a typical sunburn that caused it.
Levy found out that, surprisingly, the limes were at fault for suddenly causing the blisters to appear on his hand.
He was told phytophotodermatitis, which occurred when the citric acid from the limes combined with the sunlight, caused a toxic reaction to occur on his skin.
According to Healthline, phytophotodermatitis is caused by a type of chemical found on certain plant surfaces, which are activated by UV rays through photosynthesis. This can happen even if the exposure is brief.
The infection’s descriptive name, according to Healthline, is explained in three parts:
- phyto, which means plant
- photo, which means sunlight
- dermatitis, which is inflammation of the skin
Aside from citrus fruit — especially limes, which are the most common cause of phytophotodermatitis — other plants to watch out for include:
- Wild dill
- Wild parsley
- Wild parsnips
New York City board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Debra Jaliman, M.D. further explained to Good Housekeeping the effects that these plants can have when they come in contact with the skin and the sun:
“This makes the skin photosensitive [and] means that when the skin comes into contact with the sun, it is more sensitive to it, causing bad burns with redness and blisters.”
Phytophotodermatitis can often be mistaken for other skin conditions, including sunburn, sun allergies, hives, poison ivy, and poison oak.
Emergency room. Hives. Serious blistering rash. Breathing issues. Headache. Who'd think squeezing limes 2 days ago for…
Dr. Jaliman said there is no a quick fix for this type of blister:
“After this reaction, the skin can become much darker, something called hyperpigmentation. It takes a lot of time and effort to get rid of this and can be treated with topical treatments, but may even need lasers.”
As for Levy, he was shocked that a simple lime could cause such a severe of a skin reaction:
“You think of citrus being one of the healthiest things in the world, not that it’s capable of creating a toxic burn.”
His blister grew to be two inches wide.
Levy was treated with steroids, antihistamines, and an IV. The Minnesota dad of two is now on the mend.