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Handle your citrus with care: Lime disease (not Lyme disease) causes *major* skin inflammation


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Photo: Stocksy/Tatjana Zlatkovic

Ticks aren’t the only things to be wary of this summer. While a bite from the bloodsucker can result in Lyme disease, there’s something a little less scary-looking that can also compromise your health—and it’s lurking right inside your refrigerator: a lime. The citrus fruit can cause “lime disease,” and while the effects may not be long-lasting and detrimental as its homonym ailment, the condition is still serious business.

First, let’s get one thing straight: limes and your skin don’t mix well—at all. If you happen to squirt any juice on yourself while making a Queer Eye–approved drink out under the sun, you could wind up dealing with a chemical reaction—called phytophotodermatitis—that will leave you with a very unpleasant-looking and -feeling rash. According to Slate, the occurrence is incredibly common and usually looks like other skin conditions (think: sun poisoning and poison ivy) and results in symptoms like redness, blistering, inflammation, tenderness, pain, and pigmentation a couple days after your skin is exposed to the fruit.

“Most cases can be easily prevented by carefully washing your skin any time you think you’ve come into contact with the plants or fruits that cause this condition.” —Dawn Davis, MD

Unfortunately, you can’t just slather on some aloe vera and expect the irritation to go away within 24 hours: It starts off red, blistery, and patchy, then after the rash and blisters start to fade after a week or two, the red or brown discoloration that follows could hang around for months. And limes aren’t the only culprits. Wild parsnip, wild dill, wild parsley, buttercups, and other citrus sources can cause the same issue. Luckily, you don’t need to ban limes from your summer soirées, since it’s one of the easiest skin conditions to avoid. “The chemicals responsible for phytophotodermatitis quickly come off with soap and water,” Dawn Davis, MD, tells Mayo Clinic. “Most cases can be easily prevented by carefully washing your skin any time you think you’ve come into contact with the plants or fruits that cause this condition.”

So, with a little extra care, you can prevent Lyme and lime while you’re enjoying your time soaking up beautiful summer rays (after loading up on SPF, that is) this season.

Here’s the easiest way to sport a pair of summer-friendly lightweight leggings. Or, find out how to live your best summer life, according to your zodiac sign.

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