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Girls Get Second-Degree Burns from Limes

Update Date: Sep 06, 2013 09:44 AM EDT

Second-degree burns are often associated with fire or scolding liquids. When five young girls from Fresno, CA received second-degree burns that did not result from the first two causes, their parents were baffled. Due to the pain they were going through, the girls' parents quickly rushed them to the hospital. There, the doctors diagnosed the culprits of their burns: lime mixed with sunlight.

The five girls between the ages of seven to 11 were adding lime juice to their sodas while playing outdoors on a lovely day. The girls, Jewels, Jazmyn, Bailey, Candy and Reyghan had resorted to smashing the limes on rocks in order to get the juices. Even though lime juice seems safe enough to use, when the juices got on the girls' bodies, which were in direct contact with sunlight, they suffered blistering burns. The five girls experienced burns on their legs, arms and faces.  

"It hurt so bad," Jewels, 11, said according to ABC News. "[The pain was] probably the worst. It felt like there was a hundred needles just going in one spot."

Jewel's sister, Jazmyn added, " We never though lime can burn our skin like acid."

"A parent's worst nightmare is watching your kid scream and cry and begging you to stop the pain. And there is absolutely nothing you can do for your child," Melinda McDaniel, the mother of Reyghan expressed.

At the hospital, the doctors swiftly diagnosed the girls with phytophotodermatitis, which is caused by a reaction between the lime juice and sunlight. This type of skin irritation develops when the photosynthesizing chemicals that exist in citrus fruits combines with ultraviolet light. According to a Mayo Clinic dermatologist from Rochester, MN, Dr. Dawn Davis, the sun's UV rays trigger a change in the chemicals' structure, which leads to a painful and toxic skin reaction. The degree of the burn and irritation depends greatly on the amount of the chemicals present on the skin and the length in which the skin was exposed to sunlight. Furthermore, even though the pain and inflammation will heal within days, this type of skin irritation leads to changes in the skin pigments that might last any where from weeks to months.

Surprisingly, this type of burn is not uncommon. Experts recommend people to wear sunscreen if they are dealing with citrus foods outdoors because sunscreen will act as an effective barrier between the citrus juice and UV rays. 

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