Limes blamed for second-degree burns

September 4, 2013 (LEMOORE, Calif.)

The five little girls were enjoying a summer day in the backyard pool when they decided to make a lime and lemonade stand. Reyghan, Candy, Bailey, Jewels and Jazmyn are all recovering now. But the marks on their faces, hands and legs show just a glimpse into their painful experience following a fun day in the sun.

"So you're thinking when they're like, 'We need cups.' 'OK, here's cups for the lemonade and lime,' it's just so innocent, but yet so, you know... traumatizing to the kids at the same time," Stephanie Ellwanger said.

Ellwanger and the other moms say the girls' excruciatingly painful burns didn't show up for more than a day. Initially, they thought it was sunburn, but no one really had any idea why the girls all ended up with giant blisters.

"It was my youngest one that woke up screaming and crying, she just couldn't handle the pain," said Denise Kinser. "And there were big blisters that were growing quickly on her, all over her body."

Not knowing each of the three families was dealing with the same emergency, all five girls ended up being rushed to the burn unit at Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno. The moms say the girls were immediately given pain medication.

"When the morphine wore off it was excruciating," said Melinda McDaniel. "Nothing worse for a parent is watching your child scream and cry, and there's nothing you could do for them."

The only thing that stood out to the moms was the lime juice. The diagnosis was phytophotodermatitis. The Mayo Clinic says it's caused by a photosynthesis inducing chemical in the lime and other fruits, plants and vegetables. Exposure on the skin, combined with ultraviolet rays, can cause the dangerous chemical reaction.

"We kinda had to bring it to their attention," Ellwanger said. "I guess they did more research about it. And they diagnosed them with it."

"We want the word out," Kinser said. "We want other parents to know so they don't go through what we've been through."

"Unfortunately, they have to live with the marks," Ellwanger said. "We don't know if they're going to get better or worse."

All of the girls are cleared to return to school. But they still have to limit their time in the sun.

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