Intermountain Health logo

We need your location

Please enter the city or town where you'd like to find care.

Get care nowSign in

Health news and blog

    Sun and Citrus Don't Always Mix

    Sun and Citrus Don't Always Mix

    Sun and Citrus Don't Always Mix

    When it comes to whipping up a refreshing beverage on a hot summer day, the lime is garnish-in-chief. From margaritas to mocktails, it reigns supreme. But if you find yourself squeezing limes out by the pool, beware of blisters.

    Yes, you heard that right. Limes, plus sun, can create strange pigmentation and blisters on your skin in what you might say is the other “lime disease.”

    “Sometimes people will go to the beach and have a drink with a lime slice on the bottle,” says Dr. Darnell Martin-Wimmer, a dermatologist at Lutheran Medical Center. “They might squeeze the lime, but lime peel has a compound called psoralen. When you have psoralen on the skin and that part gets exposed to sun, you can get a reaction—dark brown pigmentation or even blisters—on the skin.”

    This sometimes painful phenomenon is called phytophotodermatitis, a skin condition caused by a plant.

    Granted, it’s not as bad as, say, falling asleep on the beach and waking up a lobster, or poking your eye with the umbrella in your drink, but taking the extra step of putting a little sunscreen or protective clothing over your hands will easily keep your skin safe.

    But if you don’t foresee yourself touching citrus-y fruits while spending a lot of time in the sun, here are some other tips to keep your skin healthy this summer:

    1. Avoid tanning, especially indoor tanning. “Women who use indoor tanning beds before the age of 35 significantly increase their risk for melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 59 percent. The risk increases with each use.”
    2. Check that medication label. “Certain medications can make you more sensitive to the sun. If you are on a medication that is photosensitizing, protect yourself with a hat, sun-protective clothing, and a higher SPF sunscreen.”
    3. Get into the habit of wearing sunscreen every day. “Ultraviolet rays accelerate signs of aging by causing wrinkles and age spots.” says Dr. Martin-Wimmer. “If you can, use a broad spectrum sunscreen that has a least a 30 sun protection factor (SPF).”
    4. Get your vitamin D from sources other than the sun. “What we suggest in dermatology is to get vitamin D from a healthy diet. These days, many foods and beverages are fortified with vitamin D, and taking a vitamin D supplement can be good too.”
    5. Seek shade. “Try to avoid sun exposure during the peak times of day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”
    6. Sunburned skin is more susceptible to future burns. “Like a thermal burn, the damage has been done. What you want to do is prevent further damage by avoiding sun exposure as soon as you know you might’ve injured your skin,” she says. “Use a mild cleanser, a hypoallergenic moisturizer, and wear clothing that doesn’t irritate the skin.”