Everyday Meals

What the Heck Is a Margarita Burn—And How Do You Treat It?

Believe it or not, a gnarly hangover isn’t the worst thing that could come from indulging in margaritas this summer. 

If you’ve never had a margarita burn, consider yourself lucky—phytophotodermatitis is extremely painful. But what exactly is a margarita burn? Here’s everything you need to know about the chemical reaction, including how to treat and prevent it.  

What Is Phytophotodermatitis?

Phytophotodermatitis (also called margarita burn or lime burn) occurs when certain fruits or vegetables and UV light come in contact with your skin at the same time. The resulting chemical burn ain’t pretty:


A 20yo woman presented in moderate distress with extensive painful blisters and swelling of the hands and fingers that had developed overnight. The night before, the patient had squeezed several #limes before dinner to make a pitcher of limeade. She then had used a personal tanning bed for 10 minutes and had gone to bed. She awoke that morning with redness, swelling, #blisters, and a painful tingling and burning on her hands. What’s your diagnosis? Comment below and read the discussion at http://ow.ly/nt9m30fsSOi. #CONdermatology #dermatology #skincondition #CONpain #pain #Phytophotodermatitis

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Once the swelling subsides, the blisters can leave dark marks that last for months. 

Though the reaction can be caused by most citrus fruits, limes are one of the most common offenders—and you can probably guess why. Margaritas and sunshine are a match made in heaven, so most people don’t think twice about cutting up a lime or two before soaking up some rays. 

How Do You Prevent Margarita Burns?

If you thought we were going to tell you not to drink margaritas this summer, you obviously don’t know us at all. Just take a precaution or two before you head out into the sunlight. 

Three words can save your skin this summer: Wash your hands. Like really, really wash them with soap and water. Just rinsing isn’t enough. 

Heck, on a pair of gloves before slicing your limes couldn’t hurt either. 

And don’t forget, limes aren’t the only offenders. Make sure to wash up after handling any citrus fruit, celery, figs, fennel, or even parsnips.

How Do You Treat Margarita Burns?

Hindsight is 20/20 and, let’s be real, if you Googled “margarita burn” you’re likely already suffering from painful blisters. 

For mild burns, over-the-counter medications like aspirin and ibuprofen will likely to the trick. Moderate and severe burns may require topical steroidal creams, oral corticosteroids, or antihistamines

One very important thing to remember: We’re MyRecipes, not WebMD. If you’re worried about your burn, go to the doctor

Margarita Recipes

Does all this talk about chemical burns have you in the mood for margs? We’ve got you covered—just be careful. 

  • Easy Margaritas for a Crowd
  • Watermelon-Mint Margarita
  • Super Skinny Margarita
  • Salted Melon Margarita Pops
  • Apple Cider Margarita

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