The symptoms of phytophotodermatitis usually begin 24 hours after exposure and peak after 48–72 hours. The symptoms, which can be mild or severe, include:
The patches of blisters usually present in irregular shapes. The patterns represent the areas of the skin that became exposed to the chemical. For example, blisters in a drip pattern may result from exposure to fruit juice. Streaks may indicate that a person brushed their skin against a plant.
Phytophotodermatitis occurs when someone comes into contact with plant chemicals and then with sunlight. The symptoms typically arise after direct contact with the plant itself. Many plants and vegetables contain chemical compounds that cause sensitivity to sunlight. Such chemicals are known as photosensitizers. An example of a photosensitizer is a psoralen.
Some common plants that contain psoralen include:
Psoralen may also be present in some fragrances and some plant oils, such as the oil of bergamot. On exposure to UVA light, psoralen causes photochemical reactions in the skin. These responses damage skin cells and cause cell death, leading to the symptoms of phytophotodermatitis.
Most cases of phytophotodermatitis clear up with minimal intervention. However, treatment is available to reduce pain and shorten the duration of symptoms. Treatment options include:
Phytophotodermatitis can affect anyone. However, several factors may increase a person’s risk of experiencing it.
The risk factors include: