Why 'margarita burn' is the serious condition you should look out for this summer

Margarita burn

Ever heard of ‘margarita burn’? If you’re going to be on cocktail making duty this summer, here’s what you need to know about the little-known condition…

Ice cold cocktails and summer go hand in hand, but turns out you can actually hurt yourself making them.

That’s exactly what happened to Courtney Fallon, after a day of squeezing limes to make margaritas for her family.

According American health website Prevention, the woman woke up the day after with her hands feeling like they were ‘on fire’.

When she looked down she noticed her hands were covered in massive, red blisters - all because of 'margarita burn'.

What is 'margarita burn'?

This unusual type of burn – medically known as phytophotodermatitis - happens when the skin reacts with certain plant chemicals.

These chemicals – furocoumarins, which are especially found in citrus fruits - cause the skin to become more sensitive to the sun, as they are activated by UVA rays, subsequently causing the burns.

And it’s not just citrus. Carrots, celery, figs, wild dill, wild parsley and wild parsnips could also cause the same reaction.

Others on social media have also shared their shock after getting severe burns from handling citrus fruits.

One explained on Instagram, alongside a picture of her burns, that she got the burns while making salsa.


She wrote: ‘Today in "you learn something new every day" news, I didn't just miss a spot when applying sunscreen to earn this burn, I got it because I hand-squeezed citrus fruit. 🍋😯

‘It's a chemical burn called Phytophotodermatotis, or "margarita burn" (I, sadly, was making salsa, not margaritas). The juice and oil from limes (and several other fruits and veggies) contain chemicals that make human skin extra sensitive to sunlight. Just "rinsing off the lime juice" isn't good enough if you're going to be in the sun, clearly. Let my blistery right hand save you from future pain!'

A photo posted by on

Another also shared picture of her injuries, revealing how she got after making ceviche: ‘This is my half joking/half serious PSA to my friends. Watch out for citrus! If you're gonna make ceviche/margaritas/other delicious things, wash your hands with soap AND water (not just a rinse), before you go out in the sun.

‘These are my hands 2 weeks after I made ceviche (wasn't even a mojito involved 😕). The citrus will react with the sun and give you a chemical burn. It's not fun. And it doesn't even get red on the day it's happening- only starts to show 24 hrs later. 🍋🙅🏻☀️’.

If you’re worried you could get ‘margarita burn’ after cooking or gardening, you should take precautions like wash your hands and other exposed areas immediately after touching the potentials culprits, and put on sun cream before sun exposure.

Moderate margarita burns usually go away on their own, but you could apply cool wash cloths for comfort. Topical ointments, such as steroids, could help with blisters and inflammation if they're more severe.

Have you ever heard of margarita burn before? Head over to our Facebook and let us know!

Mariana Cerqueira
Lifestyle Editor

Mariana is a lifestyle writer who has written for Goodto.com and My Imperfect Life. She joined the Goodto.com team as an intern after completing her journalism MA at City University. After six months spent writing about food, celebrity news, and family trends, Mariana left to write for Healthy Food magazine - but returned in 2017, to join the Future team once again. In her spare time, you’ll find Mariana in the kitchen cooking for her friends.