Is the Margarita the World’s Most Dangerous Cocktail?

This summer, I made an enormous batch of Margaritas in my backyard, ensuring I squeezed all the limes using a handheld juicer -technically known as a reamer, similar to that model. My wrist was aching during the process; however, I felt pain all over my hand by the following day. I was at my computer and realized that my left hand (and only my right hand) was a red fire engine. Though I’m not a fair-skinned woman whose hands are almost always red, I could tell this wasn’t sunburn.

It was odd. I’d put on excessive SPF 100 (my dad is a dermatologist) the previous day; however, no other part of my body appeared red. The only red thing was my hand.

I sent my dad a picture, and I got a response almost immediately: “Did you drink Margaritas yesterday?”

“Back off, Dad,” I pondered; I’m an adult; I can do whatever I like. I messaged him with the”y” letter “y,” proving I’m not an adult. However, the answer was yes. I had prepared a massive batch of Margaritas which were delicious. Thanks for letting me know.

My dad was not interested in my recipe, but. “It’s Margarita burn,” the man wrote, adding, “You’re fine,” before not answering any of my other inquiries, like “Will my hand need to be amputated?” or “Can you die from it?” I tried to lure him in by asking him, “Where do you want to go to dinner next week?” but there was nothing.

So, I consulted the internet, which provided me with two responses. First, it was a reminder not to Google an issue with your skin and then click on the image tab for the next time. The second was the information that I was looking for.

The medical term for this condition (more colloquially known as Margarita burn) is phytophotodermatitis, a word that was specifically invented to be challenging to pronounce after drinking a Margarita.

However, despite the wordy title, it’s a frequent occurrence -it’s present in my TikTok feed and can become much more than itching. According to a board-certified New York dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, extensive exposure to the plant-based chemicals found in citrus can be extremely harmful, even (but highly not likely) fatal.

According to Bowe, The most frequent instances of Margarita burns are caused by lime juice, hence the name -however, the condition could be caused by skin irritation when it is exposed to foods such as celery (so beware if like Bloody Marys) or parsley. What is the most critical unifier among these ingredients? Bowe declares that they’re all phototoxic, which means that if and when they come into contact with your skin and the sunlight, you may be dealing with extreme burns, blisters, and hyperpigmentation. Although the results might appear like burns from the sun, the symptoms may last for months.

It’s likely a reaction you’ve heard of. Did you know the old method of applying the juice of a lemon to make your hair blond? Similar to this, the final result could be more stylish.

Bowe recalls one patient who awoke one morning with a dark streak on her arm and was trying to remove it. “It was hyperpigmentation arising from phytophotodermatitis, and it had skipped the sunburn and blister stage and just went straight to what looked like a stain on her skin,” she says.

“I wonder if this is an interesting angle for canned cocktail companies to take,” thinks Erin Ashford, bar director at Holiday on 7th, an Austin, Texas bar famous for its frozen Mexican martini. A complete abstention from freshly-made drinks is not an option Ashford, a self-described Margarita lover, will take. “I’ll just keep slathering on sunscreen and wearing a big hat,” she jokes.

Bowe insists that you don’t have to forgo fresh foods and recommends washing your hands with soap and water after you squeeze the citrus and then applying sunscreen. She also suggests that you use gloves while working with these food items before getting out in the sunlight.

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