Your Annual Reminder That ‘Margarita Dermatitis’ Is a Thing

Rachel Krause


In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, there is a park, and right next to that park there is a bar, a fairly questionable but very fun mess of a long-standing local dive that probably wouldn’t appeal much to the neighborhood’s polished hipster crowd but for the law-defying work of God that is serving frozen absinthe margaritas in massive Styrofoam cups and not giving a shit when you dart out the door to revel in the sunshine and get really, really drunk.

But perhaps the saints behind the bar may want to consider displaying some kind of warning sign—in addition to the one they already have on the door, a barely legible scribble on paper that demands all patrons be over the age of 23 (?????)—with a full disclaimer that waives any and all responsibility for adverse effects customers may suffer after exiting with their contraband in hand. I’m not talking about alcohol poisoning or making unwise decisions. I’m talking about margarita dermatitis.

MORE: Does Your Hangover Need a Medical IV Drip?

Margarita dermatitis is no joke, even though it kind of sounds like one. Also known by its technical name, phytophotodermatitis, margarita dermatitis is what happens when your skin is exposed to UV light after coming in contact with certain plants and vegetables, which results in a toxic reaction between those compounds and your skin. It can lead to bruise-like hyperpigmentation accompanied by large blisters and burning—basically, it’s a chemical burn, and it is not messing around.

Lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange all fall into this category of “things that will make you look like you have greyscale,” which is inconvenient considering the overlap with “things you want to mix with tequila.” But the fear factor is very real: There have been numerous reports of second-degree burns caused by extreme cases of margarita dermatitis, and naturally your likelihood of getting it skyrockets during the summer, when a margarita and some time in the sun make for the ideal way to spend the day.

MORE: The 10 Least Annoying Sunscreens to Wear on Your Face

Once you’ve had the reaction, it’s treatable with medications that address the inflammatory aspects, but the affected areas can develop permanent discoloration. Your best bet is to not get margarita dermatitis in the first place, so just be sure to wash your hands pretty thoroughly the next time you squeeze a slice of lime into that Pacifico. And if you’re still like, Ha, whatever, a little rash won’t ruin my summer, I’d recommend browsing the Google Images results at your own discretion.