Can Foods Lead To Sunburns?

In Florida, we have the awesome opportunity to enjoy the sunshine more than most. However, there can be downsides to lots of sun exposure too. Of course, we all know the importance of sunscreen and protecting your skin from the sun, but what about plant sap or liquid on our skin? Can plant juices affect how sensitive your skin is to the sun? The short answer is YES!

What is Phytophotodermatitis?

Phytophotodermatitis is a phenomenon that occurs due to photosensitizing chemicals found in some foods. Basically, it is a form of plant dermatitis or a skin reaction that occurs when photosensitizing chemicals that are present within plant sap and fruits encounter your skin and then are exposed to sunlight. As a result, the areas affected tend to become red and can often blister. Skin lesions that occur from Phytophotodermatitis can be linear or streaks in morphology. After the acute inflammatory reaction subsites, many patients suffer from post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which unfortunately can last for weeks, or even months.

How Can I Avoid Phytophotodermatitis?

There are a few common culprits that lead to phytophotodermatitis. The most common foods that lead to this are citrus, including lemons, grapefruit, and limes. This is where the phrase “margarita dermatitis” comes from. However, other foods are associated with this condition, including figs, celery, parsley, and even hogweed. This phototoxic reaction typically occurs within 24-48 hours after furocoumarins in plants end up on the skin, then combine with ultraviolet A exposure.

The best tips to avoid phytophotodermatitis include avoiding citrus outdoors or when exposed to ultraviolet light. If you are exposed to citrus, rinse your skin with lots of water immediately after and apply sunscreen to the affected area. This condition only requires a bit of attention to be safe and can lead to potentially long-lasting effects if you don’t.

If you have extremely sensitive skin, try to avoid eating foods when you are in direct sunlight. It’s also a good idea to avoid sun exposure and foods that could be considered high risk for phytophotodermatitis. If you have a possible exposure, try to get out of the sun as quickly as possible until you can properly wash your skin.

When Do I Need To See A Dermatologist?

Don’t hesitate to call your dermatologist if you think you’re dealing with phytophotodermatitis. A board-certified dermatologist at Mahoney Dermatology Specialists can examine the affected area, confirm your diagnosis, and recommend any necessary treatment to increase your comfort and help your skin recover.

At Mahoney Dermatology Specialists, we pride ourselves on quality patient care and can provide skin care for the whole family. We proudly serve the Florida area across two separate locations to best meet the needs of our clientele. If you have a skincare condition that needs an exam, we are here to help. Contact us today to book your next appointment.