Bartenders should start getting hazard pay – especially if the bar patrons have a thirst for margaritas in these dog days of summer.
Making a margarita in the sun is the ideal condition for a case of phytophotodermatitis, a particularly foul chemical burn that comes from a combo of lime juice on the skin, and exposure to the sun. Wise guys are already coming up with the strange summertime phenomenon, offering colloquial names for the condition like margarita dermatitis, lime disease, and the accessible, ‘that disgusting thing that happened after last year’s BBQ’ (thanks anonymous BuzzFeed contributor).
This ‘margarita burn’ isn’t limited to limes; it can result from coming in contact with produce like carrots, parsley, and other citrus fruits. Having said that, the most common connection is with limes. The juices and oils from these plants hold photosensitizers, “which make human skin extra-sensitive to sunlight. When an affected spot is overexposed, it burns,” according to The Atlantic.
How bad can the burns get? Some bartenders working outdoor events, having to squeeze hundreds of limes under the sun, have gotten second-degree burns on their hands a few days post-squeezing. It’s becoming more serious, and well-known: an official with the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild says that, with the “big commitment to using fresh juices” in drinks nowadays, bartenders should be warned about the risk of phytophotodermatitis.
When it comes to phytophotodermatitis treatment, any standard remedy used for other burns caused by direct heat will do the trick. Depending on severity, there’s a multitude of ways to treat margarita burn: moisturizers and sunscreens, draining blisters, bacitracin, bandages, and more. To avoid the condition altogether, be diligent about watching your hands after dicing those limes!
Or, you know, grab a beer or something – your bartender might tip you instead.