Byron Shire boy hospitalised with ‘margarita burns’ after juicing limes and going in the sun – ABC News

Eight-year-old Otis Kerr was squeezing limes picked from a tree outside the family home at Ocean Shores, north of Byron Bay, on Saturday.

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A few days later he was in hospital with large blisters on his arms.

His mother Catherine Kerr said she had never heard about the potential for a severe skin reaction if the juice was exposed to sunlight.

“It wasn’t something that sort of happened straight away,” she said.

“It was a progressive impact over a few days.”

Otis was initially taken to the Tweed Heads Hospital, where medical staff diagnosed contact dermatitis.

“They were asking me if he’d had contact with anything unusual, and I just did not think to say limes,” Ms Kerr said.

“I felt quite silly not realising.”

Otis returned home, but when the blisters continued to spread he was taken to Byron Central Hospital.

“It was a nurse there that had seen a case, I think the week before, and she was able to tell straight away that it was what’s called margarita burns,” Ms Kerr said.

“I just had no idea that limes and exposure to sunlight was capable of doing something like that.”

A sliced lime on a chopping board with knife.

Chemical reaction

Byron Bay dermatologist Hsien Herbert-Chan said margarita burns occurred when a chemical found in certain fruits and vegetables reacted with sunlight.

“Limes contain chemicals called furocoumarins, which, when exposed to UV – particularly UV-A radiation – will damage the skin,” he said.

“So people can be exposed to limes indoors and they won’t get a reaction, but if they do go outside they will develop a phototoxic reaction.”

Dr Herbert-Chan said he had seen patients presenting at hospital with the same condition caused by homemade bleach using citrus.

“It can be a very painful condition,” he said.

“Blisters start forming pretty quickly, within minutes of exposure to radiation, but the maximum number of blisters takes about two days.”

Dr Herbert-Chan said furocoumarins were found in a variety of fruit and vegetables including limes, celery and figs.

He said the painful reaction could be avoided by washing hands after exposure to the chemicals or simply staying inside.

A hand squeezing juice from a lime.

Warning for parents

Ms Kerr said her son was expected to make a full recovery over the next few weeks.

“He’s dealing with it really well, I think he’s most upset about missing his nippers and swimming carnival,” she said.

“But he was obviously in quite a bit of pain when we had to spend the night in hospital.

“I just really want to let other parents know to be careful with their children playing with limes.”

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This content was originally published here.

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