When I read my pal Ivan Oransky’s recent story about beer, limes and dermatitis for Reuters, I thought, wait a second, this sounds weirdly familiar.
I can’t remember where I put my car keys half the time. But I was sure I had read something somewhere about lime juice causing skin rashes. Hmmm. Where?
Leave it to Ivan, who tracked down the report I’d vaguely remembered. Way back in the big-haired, leg-warming ’80s, the New England Journal of Medicine ran a letter about the rash (password required) of a young woman linked to a drinking game at a Club Med.
The lede was unforgettable, well, for a medical journal:
The romantic lure of singles’ travel clubs includes ensured social interaction through group activities. A drinking game on a Caribbean Club Med vacation led to a distinctive presentation of a well-defined phototoxic dermatitis.
The rules? Not so sure about those, having never been to a Club Med of any sort. But the doctor, noting long, mirror-image dark streaks on the woman’s thighs, wrote:
The patient’s history failed to incriminate any lotions or perfumes, but her trip activities had included a drinking game during which participants would balance and roll limes up and down their laps and closed thighs.
Sunlight plus a chemical found in limes (and other citrus fruit) left the woman with a souvenir, for a couple of weeks anyway, of her Caribbean getaway.