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Lime-squeezing bartender suffers second degree burns

A US bartender suffered second degree burns causing his hand to swell after squeezing dozens of limes in the sun – a rare condition known as ‘Margarita burn’.

Justin Fehntrich’s blistered hand after squeezing too many limes in the sun. Photo credit: Justin Fehntrich

An unfortunate case of “Margarita burn”, also known as phytophotodermatitis, befell bartender Justin Fehntrich while working an event in New York last month.

Unaware of the dangers of mixing lime juice with sunlight, Fehntrich happily squeezed dozens while preparing Margarita’s for the event’s guests.

By the end of the day, Fehntrich had squeezed so many limes that his hands had shrivelled, later developing into a burn, as reported by The AtlanticBlisters began to form five days later.

It is now seven weeks since the burn and his hands have mostly healed, but remain an angry pink colour.

Speaking to The Atlantic, Fehntrich said had he known about the risks of phytophotodermatitis he would have refused to squeeze the limes that afternoon.

Phytophotodermatitis happens when the compound psoralen, found in limes and lemons, is exposed to a person’s skin.

Once absorbed, it will make a person’s skin especially sensitive to sunlight, particularly UV rays, causing the skin to burn at an accelerated rate.

The chemical can amplify the effects of the sun’s rays by about 10 times, with Fehntrich suffering second degree burns after just an afternoon in the sun. The effects of psoralen remain active for around 24-hours once absorbed, making staying out of the sun the only preventative measure.

The good news is that if you wash your hands swiftly enough after handling lime juice you are unlikely to suffer burns in the sun.

Limes and sunshine, it seems, really do not mix.

Fehntrich’s hand after seven weeks.

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