Stephanie Ellwanger of Hanford, California, took her two daughters and three of their friends to a pool party. By the next morning, the girls looked to be badly sunburnt. All five girls developed burns to the point of blisters, and were taken to a hospital. They were all admitted with second-degree burns over 15% of their bodies. Doctors suspected chemical burns.
Then she remembered the lime tree.
A neighbor had a large lime tree that grew over the fence into the backyard where the girls went swimming. They had picked some of the fruits and squeezed them out into imaginary tea cups in their play lemonade stand.
Was there something on the limes? Ellwanger wondered about pesticides. She mentioned this to the doctors, then went home to do some research.
A few attempts on Google yielded a term she’d never heard before: Phytophotodermatitis, a chemical reaction that makes bare skin hypersensitive to ultraviolet light. It’s caused by contact with photosensitizing compounds which occur naturally in some fruits and vegetables — like limes.
The girls spent two weeks in the hospital, and now have to be home schooled to avoid sunlight. Phytophotodermatitis can be caused by lemon, lime, celery, carrot, and other foods. When I was a kid, my friends and I would put lemon juice on our hair before outdoor sports to help the sun bleach it. Little did I know we were playing with fire! Link -via Arbroath
(Image credit: Gary Feinstein/The Sentinel)