This was going to be one of my ‘top tips of the day’ but I’ve decided to give it a blog post of its own as its something I think mothers should be aware of whether you’re travelling, planning to travel, or on a holiday in a sunny climate.

A few days ago we noticed that a prominent red mark had appeared on ‘the boy’s’ left hand. At first we thought it was a small patch of sunburn where we’d missed applying his sunblock. We kept our eye on it, but over the course of the next few days the mark got darker and begin to blister. It was then that I noticed a few similar marks on my left arm and small markings on my legs.

Backpacking with a baby Phytophotodermatitis

'the boy's' hand showing the Phytophotodermatitis caused by lime juice

My other half used ‘Google goggles’ (A visual search application from Google that identifies objects by taking their pictures.) to try and determine what it could be and the result was Phytophotodermatitis (also known as “Berloque dermatitis).  It’s an inflammatory eruption resulting from contact with light-sensitizing botanical substances such as fresh lime juice. The markings take 24 – 72 hours to appear on the skin and are often mistaken for chemical burns. It looked like this could be the diagnosis.

Backpacking with a baby Phytophotodermatitis

3 finger marks on my arm

We tried to think of a logical explanation and remembered that a few days previous, whilst still in Ubud, we’d been out for morning drinks with our friends Paul and Laura. My other half ordered a lime based drink and the lady who’d made it had been playing with ‘the boy’ behind the café counter. I had also squeezed a lime into my coconut and must have shaken the drops from my fingers onto my leg and then folded my arms. 30 minutes later we walked back to our bungalow in the sunshine, and although we couldn’t see anything at this point, the damage had been done.

Post reading the information online we took ‘the boy’ to the local pharmacist who confirmed our suspicions and prescribed some steroid based cream.

Backpacking with a baby Phytophotodermatitis

Morning drinks with our friends, Paul and Laura, who we met in Java

Phytophotodermatitis doesn’t affect everyone but if you are prone to it then it can cause permanent scaring. We’re using the steroid cream daily and hope that over time ‘the boy’s’ marks will fade (we’re lucky it’s not on his face).

The long and the short of it is, if you’re on holiday or exposed to the sun and come into contact with lime juice or segments in drinks, then wash your hands thoroughly before touching you or your baby’s skin.  I had never heard of this reaction before, but now you have you could avoid it happening to you.