Combination of limes, sun can result in ‘margarita dermatitus’

HOUSTON – Adding a slice of lime to a favorite summer drink is nice to cool off with, but it could leave your skin burning, say dermatologists at Baylor College of Medicine.

The condition, called phytophotodermatitis, happens when a certain plant compound comes in contact with the skin, making that one area light sensitive. During the summer, lime juice is the common cause for this condition, which is why some doctors call it ‘margarita dermatitis.’

The reaction usually looks like a sunburn, or a poison ivy rash, with redness and sometimes swelling and blistering, says Dr. Rajani Katta, associate professor of dermatology at BCM. It can be itchy and painful, and leave behind skin discoloration.

Treatment is similar to treating a poison ivy rash. Cool compresses and hydrocortisone creams along with oral antihistamines are used. Severe cases could require steroid pills.

Preventative action is best. Be aware of what plant products you come in contact with and wash the area thoroughly before going out in the sun. As always, make sure to apply sunscreen and stay in shaded areas to maintain good skin health.


Antacids may mask serious problem

HOUSTON – Taking an over-the-counter antacid on a regular basis could be a sign of trouble, warns a Baylor College of Medicine physician.

“If you are taking an over-the-counter antacid on a daily basis, you have more than just occasional heartburn,” said Dr. Waqar Qureshi, associate professor of medicine and chief of endoscopy at BCM. “If that is the case, you should see a doctor.”

Heartburn can occur when certain foods cause the muscle controlling the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus to relax, allowing stomach acid to rise more easily into the chest and leaving a burning sensation and a sour taste in your mouth.

You can improve the symptoms by avoiding large meals, eating several hours before bedtime and reducing your weight if you are overweight. If these measures don’t help, prescription medications may be necessary, said Qureshi.

Frequent heartburn could signal a chronic condition or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which afflicts more than 7 million Americans annually. Ignoring frequent symptoms could lead to complications such as strictures (a narrowing of the esophagus), ulcers, difficulty swallowing and even esophageal cancer.

“The bottom line is to not ignore heartburn,” Qureshi said, “If you are having heartburn several times a week, especially if it interrupts your sleep, or notice difficulty swallowing, you should see a doctor.”


Do kids need sports drinks?

HOUSTON – Although children may request sports drinks, they offer little advantage over cool water, say nutritionists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor and Texas Children’s Hospital. Sports drinks are designed to benefit athletes engaged in continuous, high-intensity aerobic workouts that last for 90 minutes or more. 

But, if the availability of sports drinks encourages your kids to drink, consider making your own. Combine caffeine-free herbal tea, a little sugar, a pinch of salt, a few ounces of orange juice, and chill in individual bottles. 

Active kids need to fill up on fluids to prevent dehydration. Children should be encouraged to drink before heading outside and every 15 to 30 minutes during playtime activities.


Your weight is key to a healthy heart

HOUSTON - For most people, having a healthy weight may prevent heart disease or make heart health more manageable, according to Dr. Hani Jneid, assistant professor and director of interventional cardiology research at Baylor College of Medicine.

Being overweight or obese can contribute to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, all of which can contribute to heart disease.

Making small healthy eating and exercise changes is one way to start. This includes:

- Reducing sodium intake

- Learning about portion size

- Eating more fruits and vegetables

- Replacing meat with fish

- Replace sugary drinks with water

- Fit in more walking during the day

“It is important that each person knows his or her body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC). Those individuals with an elevated BMI or with a disproportionally high WC for a given BMI should have their risk factors evaluated and should be targeted for a healthier lifestyle and body weight,” said Jneid.