How sun can turn produce pesky

By • Published: April 21st, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Warm weather provides a great opportunity to enjoy a meal or cocktail outside. But if you’re squeezing limes into your drinks or onto your food, watch out for a condition that could leave you wanting to hide indoors.

According to dermatologists from Baylor College of Medicine, an oil found in some plants, including limes, celery, parsley and the flowering plant Queen Anne’s lace, can cause an adverse reaction called phytophotodermatitis, or P-P-D, when it soaks into skin that is then exposed to the sun.

Doctors say other potential plant culprits include figs, parsnips, carrots, and certain kinds of weeds. Bartenders and grocers more often develop P-P-D because of their frequent exposure to limes and other produce.

When sunlight activates the oil-soaked skin of people prone to this condition, swelling, blistering, itching and pain can occur.

These symptoms usually appear about twenty-four hours after sun exposure, and are most severe at forty-eight to seventy-two hours.

After other symptoms have subsided, the skin may remain splotchy and discolored for weeks or months. In rare cases, the discoloration is permanent. Some people experience mild swelling and pain and notice only the strange color of their skin.

The common way to treat the problem is with hydrocortisone cream, cool compresses and antihistamines. Stronger medicines may be required for extreme cases.

But when in doubt, the best way to scratch P-P-D off your list of worries is to wash your hands or other skin after it comes in contact with certain plants.