While delicious, the effects of margaritas go well beyond a hangover. In fact, when made and consumed in warm weather, this beverage can actually cause second-degree burns and itchy rashes known as “margarita burn”. Now, as an avid margarita drinker myself, this is not something I have ever personally experienced but was introduced to this ailment via Canadian vlogger Allana Davison.
Davison recently spoke about her experience with margarita burn on Instagram and it piqued my marg-loving interest so I went to her Instagram Highlights and watched one aptly named “THE BURN”. While on holiday in Tulum, Mexico in 2019, Davison repeatedly squeezed limes and made margaritas while in the sun.
What seemed like a fairly innocuous activity actually resulted in second-degree burns on both of her hands, with her lime-squeezing hand particularly bad. To grasp the full gravity of margarita burn, please go and watch Davison’s Instagram Highlights. Honestly, it’s wild and needs to be seen to be believed.
The official name for margarita burn is phytophotodermatitis. “The term ‘phyto’ means plant, ‘photo’ refers to light, and ‘dermatitis’ is the inflammation of the skin,” Dr Keira Barr, a dual board-certified dermatologist, told Healthline.
When lime juice drips onto the skin and is exposed to the sun for a number of hours, it creates the perfect environment for burning to occur which often results in blisters and rashes thanks to a chemical called furocoumarin. According to Healthline, the reaction can be worse on skin that is wet or sweaty.
Some cases of phytophotodermatitis can be mild and won’t result in burns, but rather just rashes or stinging. For those cases that are more severe, it’s best to go to the hospital to get the burns treated and wrapped properly to avoid infection.
“The degree of photosensitivity is based on the amount of juice and its concentration,” said Barr. “People who were squeezing a lot of limes or had a drink spilled on them and then had a lot of sun exposure may have significant blistering, like a second- or third-degree thermal burn. They might have open sores and wounds that require medical attention.”
To avoid margarita burn this summer, make sure to lather yourself in SPF every two hours and if you are handling lime juice, make sure to wash your hands regularly and keep your hands out of the sun where possible.
“The bottom line is that you should keep your limes in your glass, and if you do happen to splash some lime juice on your skin while enjoying the sunshine, be sure to wash it off right away so your happy hour stays happy,” Barr said.