While sipping lemonade poolside seems like a perfect combination, there is danger lurking in this seemingly iconic setting. You might just be setting yourself up for a miserable time. Many citrus fruits are photosensitive such as lemon, orange, grapefruit and mandarin as they contain photosensitizing plant compounds, much like certain medications. If the citrus drips on your skin, it can make it extra sensitive to sunlight. Make sure to wash the kids off if they are consuming these fruits raw or in drinks before sending them out into the direct sunlight.
This sun-induced skin sensitivity is called phytodermatitis and with some individuals a strong reaction can occur resulting in intense sunburn, rash, hives and even blistering. This condition can also be brought on by celery, parsnip and fennel on the skin. Another item to avoid before sunning is citrus essential oils that may be applied topically. You should avoid direct sunlight within 6 hours of having applied a photosensitive essential oil or having any of the foods listed above on your skin.
It is not always obvious which plant is responsible for a flare-up of the phytodermatitis. Sometimes a rash may develop without direct contact with the plant; the juices may be on clothing or the fingers. A plant cause for dermatitis is suspected when there is a linear or streaky pattern. It is nearly always asymmetrical.
The rash may take various forms. Some plants only cause a rash if the sun is shining on the skin at the same time i.e. photocontact dermatitis. Big blisters appear on exposed parts which have been in contact with the plant. Anyone can get this kind of plant dermatitis, which settles leaving brown marks (pigmentation), which may last several months. When caused by perfume, it is known as ‘berloque dermatitis’.
Parents and child care providers should be very careful in making sure kids wash their hands and faces carefully (even arms and legs if they are particularly messy with juice drippings) before heading outdoors.
Using common sense and taking a little bit of precautionary steps is the best way to prevent phytodermatitis. Consider bringing along all natural wet wipes or damp washcloths placed in a plastic bag for an easy way to wash off before sun exposure. If you should happen to suffer from a severe case of sunburn or phytodermatitis, use Young Living Lavoderm or pure therapeutic grade Lavender oil mixed with water in a glass spray bottle for soothing relief and to heal fast.
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