Local man gets second-degree burns from lime juice

The simple act of making a margarita on a hot summer day left one local man with severe burns on his hands. Shelby Danielsen finds out why it happened.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A rare and painful skin reaction has left one man with second-degree burns one week before his wedding - and lime juice is to blame.

The technical name for the skin reaction is Phytophotodermatitis. It's a toxic reaction resulting from citric acid mixed with sunlight. It's often referred to as "Margarita Dermatitis" or "Lime Disease", not be confused with Lyme Disease.

It's more common in Florida, especially around summer holidays like Memorial Weekend when lime juice is used more often for mixed drinks; which is exactly how it happened to soon-to-be newlyweds Alyse Golden and Aaron Peers.

Peers was squeezing limes to make margaritas in their backyard on the Sunday before Memorial Day. He had no idea the lime juice on his hands was toxic under the sun. The next night the burns started to appear. It wasn't until Tuesday when he woke up to a huge blister on his hand. They rushed to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with second-degree burns, but the cause was still baffling to doctors.

Now, their honeymoon plans in Hawaii are on standby since he's been told to stay out of the sun.

"So the blistering is gone and now I'm left with really bright pink skin," said Peers. "If you can imagine when I was actually squeezing the limes how the juice might run over and it got up my arm. Yeah the most normal reaction is that's gross, which I agree, it's super gross."

As for their wedding photos coming up - Golden said Photoshop will come in handy, they just hope the ring just fits when it comes to their big day.

"Tried it on the other day, it barely fit," said Peers.

Dr. Douglas Robins is no stranger to this condition, he gets about a dozen patients a year, but even he was taken aback by the pictures of Peers' hands.

He says it can take several years to bleach the skin back to normal and there's no telling what makes one case worse than another but everyone is susceptible.

"If you've never had it before that doesn't matter," said Robins. "It's a combination of lime juice and the sun."

The solution? Dr. Robins says just being cautious – and keeping that lime juice inside and away from the sun.


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