On August 16th we went to Orange County to visit my parents for our annual cousin’s day. We do this every year. My siblings and I all come together, with our kids, to hang out and spend time next to my parent’s pool. Because we were in Indiana for last year’s cousins day, I was excited to go this year but also a little nervous. The boys are 2 and their pool is open with no fence… there was going to be a lot of chasing going on.
I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about Zadey though. She loves Nana & Papa’s house, playing with her cousins, and was crazy excited about the watermelon eating contest.
Shortly after we arrived at my parent’s house the kids were anxious to get in the pool and begin playing. Zadey, being a strong swimmer, couldn’t wait to jump in and go for it. And, it didn’t take long for her and her cousins to decide to pick limes and various other leaves off my parent’s fruit trees and plants.
Just next to the pool the kids broke open the limes, peeled them, and built their lime “fairy castle.” (See them there at the very bottom of the above picture?) The activity went on without any worry or concern from anyone. The kids were having fun, it’s flowers, leaves, and limes… what harm can that do? Right?
It wasn’t until Sunday morning, the next day, that we noticed Zadey had a couple of red rashy areas. They were on her upper back thigh and on the insider of her leg. I didn’t think anything of it, honestly. My parent’s pool needs to be refinished in some spots so hitting or rubbing your leg on these areas creates a sandpaper like feel. As it was I had a spot on my knee that was the same way. I was just sure that was it.
Our first day back to school after summer and we’re working out our morning routine. I’m on the couch enjoying my cup of coffee while Zadey has her breakfast. She says to me, “Mommy, you can’t see it but I have a sunburn on my hand and between my fingers.”
Immediately I’m skeptical. Yes, she got a bit of a sunburn on her face and shoulders, but on her hand and between her fingers? I encouraged her to keep eating and then we’d take a look at it.
When she was done eating she showed me her left hand. Her fingers were swollen, there were blisters forming, it was red and splotchy in some areas.
Figures, it’s the first day of school and my kid has something contagious. Immediately I took her to urgent care instead of school. By the time we arrived, about a 10 minute drive, her right hand went from showing signs of nothing to red, burning, and blisters forming. It was that fast.
Within 1 hour we were in and out… poison ivy they said. She could go to school the following day. She was not prescribed anything and sent home.
Zadey woke up not feeling well. Her hands HURT. Her fingers were covered in blisters. On her thighs and different areas that had previously been red, we now had big blisters. She wasn’t walking right because it would pull on the skin around the blisters and hurt. She could barely move her hands.
There was no way she would make it through school. She went back to bed.
By Wednesday we hit the peek of the problem. Every finger had a blister. There were random blisters on her forearms and upper arms. The blisters on her thighs were at their largest. She was hurting enough that we had started giving her Tylenol, but it wasn’t enough to kill the pain.
I was over it. This was not poison ivy (to which none can be found at my parent’s house), she needed to be seen by her doctor. I immediately called them with the hopes that I could get a same day appointment while sending Zadey back to her bed to rest. She was the most comfortable there and it kept her curious 2 year old brothers away from her “boo boo.”
Her doctor could not see her until the end of September. I explained the problem and they wouldn’t budge. It’s time to change doctors, but that’s another issue. As of now, I just wanted her to be seen and of course, I’d need that trusty release to get her back to school this week.
I ran out of time before work and was left not sure what I would do to get Zadey seen.
At the same time, my sister-in-law posted a link on Facebook for my sister and me to see. I Got Second Degree Burns from Lime Juice.
It sounds totally crazy. But, I read her story. And the pictures! That’s exactly what Zadey looked like! What the heck was this?
Over night, things changed for Zadey. She woke up better. However, after spending nearly every day for the last 4 days in her room alone she was restless. She didn’t know how to spend time with us with her brothers in the room poking and touching her blisters. She had had it. She was anxious and frustrated.
My poor girl had spent days in pain and reached her breaking point. She found comfort in the corner of the couch talking her brothers through carefully sitting next to her, leaving her boo boos alone, and watching TV. Mean while I talked with my sister about different doctor’s options. We continued with the Tylenol to ease her comfort, and I did a lot of research on this whole lime juice burn issue.
I headed off to work on Thursday absolutely confused with what I should do to get her treatment. This wasn’t an emergency, I couldn’t take her to an ER. The urgent care center said they would do “follow-up” care and she had to be taken to her doctor. No one would see her. My mommy gut told me not to go to work, but I support our family. I had to go and spent the whole night wondering how I was going to make my little girl feel better.
We continued to see improvement with Zadey on Friday. Things were looking a lot better and she was in significantly better spirits. I called the nurse advice line for our insurance and sought after help in getting her seen. Not only did I need someone to explain the whole lime juice burn to me, but I needed to have a paper saying it was safe for her to be at school since she had missed more than 3 days.
The insurance suggested that I take her back to urgent care. And, after some talking at urgent care, they saw her.
I went in armed with information and specifically said to the doctor, “will you please look at information on phytophotodermatitis?”
Yeah, say that ten times fast.
After some quick research on her rolling laptop in a medical database, the doctor at urgent care agreed. Zadey did not have poison ivy. She is healing from second degree burns from lime juice and sun exposure!
What is Phytophotodermatitis?
The Mayo Clinic says:
Phytophotodermatitis is a skin condition that happens as a result of sensitivity to chemicals in certain plants and fruits. The reaction to those chemicals is triggered when the affected skin is exposed to sunlight or other ultraviolet light. Phytophotodermatitis is different from most other sun-related skin conditions because instead of affecting all areas of skin exposed to the sun, it affects only the spots that the chemicals touch directly.
The chemicals that cause phytophotodermatitis are found most commonly in wild parsnip, wild dill, wild parsley, buttercups and citrus fruits, especially limes. When these chemicals get on your skin and then are exposed to ultraviolet light, a chemical reaction occurs that often looks like a sunburn, or it may develop as a red, itchy patch, similar to eczema. The skin may also blister. Eventually the affected area, which feels like a mild to severe sunburn, may turn brown. This discoloration can sometimes last for months.
So she spent all day, by the pool, playing with limes and various other plants and the result is a burn. One that is very, very painful. I would have never guessed, suspected, or even worried about such a thing.
After taking Zadey to urgent care I took her out to eat and as we sat down, I talked to her about what we have learned from this. And, as mom with a broken heart I apologized over and over again to her for not knowing it could hurt her, for not stopping her, and my sweet daughter with tears welling in her eyes turns to me and says…
“It’s okay Mommy, you know everything else and now you know this.”
At least she’s not mad at me.