1. What EXACTLY is berloque dermatitis, and what causes it?
Berloque dermatitis is a form of skin irritation that occurs when chemical compounds found in some citrus fruits and vegetables come in contact with skin that is exposed to sunlight. Photosensitizing compounds in lemons, limes, parsnips, celery, and carrots, among others, react to UVA rays and can cause burning, itching, and blistering. Lemon and lime juice, in particular, give the condition its other commonly used names: margarita dermatitis or Club Med dermatitis.
2. What are the symptoms of berloque dermatitis?
The discoloration and irritation can look like a sunburn but often manifests as blisters or reddish and dark spots, which are always in the distribution of where the juice contacted the skin. In fact, sometimes the small drip marks have little blisters o them! Symptoms usually appear within 24 hours, and large blisters can form on affected areas over a few days. Pigmentation of the skin usually last weeks after blisters are reduced.
3. How is berloque dermatitis treated?
Topical steroids are helpful if the spots are still red. Once pigmentation forms, the area should be kept out of the sun, and use of broad-spectrum sunscreens (best to use mineral sunscreen with Zinc Oxide or a European sunscreen with Mexoryl or Tinosorb) is important. In some cases, a bleaching cream with hydroquinone can be prescribed.
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