When you think about burns, your first thoughts probably center on open fires, hot liquids, and contact burns from the stovetop. This makes sense, because these are the sources of many burn injuries. However, other possible burn injury risks include electricity, caustic chemicals, radiation, and even friction.
Even if you were aware of those burn causes, you have probably never thought of these three surprising burn injury risks:
Also known as margarita burn or “lime disease,” lime juice can cause a condition called phytophotodermatitis. In short, a chemical reaction occurs when lime juice on the skin is exposed to the sun’s UV rays. These burns vary in severity based on the amount of lime juice on your skin, where the burns occur, and your exposure to UV radiation.
According to an article on the condition published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, lime juice is just one of a number of photosensitizing compounds. Other foods with the same compounds include:
- Wild dill
- Some other citrus fruits
In most cases, margarita burn sufferers first notice burning, itching, and stinging of the affected area several days after exposure. Red or hyperpigmented areas appear, often in the shape of splashes, drips, or handprints, depending on how the lime juice came in contact with the skin. Some people may eventually develop large blisters on the affected skin. Once the inflammatory reaction begins to clear, the skin often turns to a telltale brown hue that can last for several weeks or longer.
Treatment for phytophotodermatitis includes:
- Washing off any remaining lime juice as soon as possible
- Applying cool, wet compresses to affected skin
- Topical steroids as recommended by a doctor
- Doctors may prescribe indomethacin
- In-hospital treatment for cases that affect sensitive areas or cover more than 30 percent of the body
While serious injuries are rare, aerosol cans have the potential to cause burns in two ways. Heat can cause these cans to explode, while overexposure to some aerosol propellants can lead to frostbite-like burns on the skin.
The pressurized gases inside some aerosol cans cool quickly with use, and the cold liquid and air expelled are cold enough to cause frostbite with prolonged exposure or on sensitive skin.
These cans may also explode if heated, leading to another burn risk. In one case profiled by the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, a woman left a can of air freshener a few inches from a gas stove burner for about ten minutes. The can was cool to the touch, but exploded when she picked it up. This left her with partial thickness burns on her hands, arms, face, and body.
To avoid injury, it is important to use aerosol cans only according to the directions provided, and keep them out of the reach of children or teens who may misuse them. Keep them away from any heat source and dispose of them properly when the product runs out.
Laptop users should avoid prolonged contact with a hot laptop, to avoid minor burns and a troubling skin condition known as laptop-induced dermatosis. Laptops without proper ventilation — such as those that rest on someone’s thighs or another soft surface — can reach temperatures hot enough to cause first-degree burns with prolonged exposure. However, it is more likely that a user will suffer from hyper-pigmentation instead of an actual burn, according to David Peng, a former clinical associate professor of dermatology at Stanford University.
Pediatrics reviewed the case files of ten patients who suffered injuries because of their laptops. Researchers found that most suffered the laptop-induced lesions on only the left thigh because of the design of the typical laptop. Most sufferers reported symptoms after using a laptop with it directly on their thighs for six to eight hours a day, for several weeks.
The primary symptom of laptop-induced dermatosis is a darkened area of skin in the affected area. In some people, this discoloration is permanent. There is also some proof that it can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. Other people who are susceptible to this condition include:
- Workers who stand in front of open fires or stoves
- Those who spend extended time under hot pads or heated blankets
The best way laptop users can avoid minor burns or dermatosis is to use the laptop on a table or desk. Alternatively, a lap desk or other device to raise the laptop away from your legs can prevent skin damage.
What to do after a burn injury
Do not deal with your injury alone; contact a lawyer referral specialist at Burn Victims Resource if you need help finding a lawyer.