What is phytophoto dermatitis?

Also known as: lime disease, Beloque dermatitis, Margarita dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin reacts with itchiness, redness and blisters when it comes in contact with an irritant. Phytophoto dermatitis is a rare form of contact dermatitis in which the skin has to be exposed to certain plant chemicals, and then sunlight, in order for the inflammation related to dermatitis to occur.

What causes phytophoto dermatitis? 
Chemicals in plants known as furocoumarins are the cause of phytophoto dermatitis. Common plants that can cause this reaction include limes, wild dill, wild parsnips, wild parsley, carrots and celery, among others. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays triggers photosynthesis in these plants, which leads to the reaction.

What are the symptoms of phytophoto dermatitis?
Itchy, unusually shaped blisters and patches are the common reaction to phytophoto dermatitis. When these subside, they can leave darkly pigmented skin in their place that lasts for several weeks or months.

What are phytophoto dermatitis care options?
Treatment for phytophoto dermatitis is focused on soothing the skin with topical ointments or cool washcloths. Phytophoto dermatitis can be prevented by avoiding the irritants, wearing protective clothing and sunscreen and washing thoroughly after exposure to the plants that cause the reaction.

Reviewed by: Ana Margarita Duarte, MD

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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