I’ve been there. Forgetting to put on food prep gloves before chopping up some hot peppers. 😩 The pain will subside eventually, but below are tips to soothe those burning bits!
In the future always wear gloves when chopping up any type of hot pepper to avoid the dreaded 🔥 BURN 🔥
Learn more about what Makes Hot Peppers Spicy here!
Why is it so hard to stop the burn?
Capsaicin is an active component of chile peppers and is an oil. Washing with soap and water doesn’t stop the heat because oil-based capsaicin does not dissolve in water.
The key to stopping the heat is to neutralize the pepper oil.
Below are a few solutions that I hope will work for you. Honestly, it can be quite difficult to stop the capsaicin burn, so you may have to try the techniques below several times to get relief.
ON YOUR SKIN
The burning sensation after cutting chile peppers comes from oils that coat the skin and are very hard to wash off. Soap and water alone don’t always do the trick. Below are some solutions to neutralize the hot pepper oil.
(1) Rubbing Alcohol/Dish Soap Combo: I’ve had the most success with rubbing alcohol & dish soap. Isopropyl alcohol is a solvent, meaning it is a dissolver of dirt and OIL. What I do is douse my hands with rubbing alcohol, then wash them with dish soap. Repeat as many times as needed to stop the burn.
(2) Dish Soap or Hand Grease Cleaner: Wash your hands with dish soap or hand degreaser. Both have oil-dissolving properties above and beyond regular hand soap.
(3) Soak in Corn Starch: Starch draws the oil out of the skin and can help to neutralize it.
(4) Vinegar: Rinse your hands with vinegar, which is an acid.
(5) Aerosol Calamine Lotion: Someone wrote in that this was the only thing that stopped the burn on their hands. Two applications worked like a charm.
IN YOUR MOUTH:
(1) Dairy works to bring down the heat. Milk, yogurt, and sour cream are acidic. Capsaicin also dissolves easily in the fats found in dairy products, so when you put a dab of sour cream in your mouth along with (or after) a bite of hot stuff, you’re creating a pretty effective dilution.
The capsaicin and dairy fats mix together, keeping some of the capsaicin molecules from finding the pain receptors on your tongue.
Remember, it’s the fat that provides the relief, so low-fat sour cream or nonfat yogurts won’t be as effective. This antidote tones down many spicy cuisines, from the use of sour cream with Mexican food to the yogurt condiments eaten with Indian meals. In Thai cuisine, rich coconut milk serves much the same purpose.
(2) Food & Drinks that are Acidic: Drinking tomato juice or eating fresh lemon, lime, pineapple, or avocado are recommended since they are all acidic foods which can neutralize some of the activity of the alkaline capsaicinoid.
(3) Sugar/Honey: I’ve heard sugar helps. I can’t say I’ve tried this, but some say honey is a miracle worker.
IN YOUR EYES:
This is the worst. I wear contacts, so I touch my eye a couple of times a day and I cook with a lot of hot peppers. For this reason, I always wear gloves.
Even if I feel zero burning on my hands, the eyes always know! Eyes are very sensitive to even the smallest amount of pepper oil.
If you get pepper oil in your eyes when wearing contacts, take them out as soon as you possibly can. Throw them away: getting the pepper oil off them will be practically impossible.
I’ve found that my tears tend to get rid of the burn, but here are some additional solutions I’ve come across.
(1) 😭 Blink fast to tear up the eyes: Blinking will cause an influx in tears and help in flushing out the capsaicinoids.
(2)💧 Flush eyes with a saline solution: Saline will help flush out any extra pepper substance in the eye after the burning sensation has subsided. Be sure to continually blink after applying the solution to help get rid of any remaining oil in your eyes.
(3) Apply milk to reduce the burning sensation: This is a tactic used when someone has been sprayed in the face with pepper spray. I say spraying milk into your eyes would probably be the last resort, but it is an option if your eyes are super on 🔥. Or if the gal down the street sprayed you with pepper spray. If the latter is the case, you may want to rethink your life. 😆
While milk does not remove the oily particles, it can reduce the sting. Milk contains dairy fat which eliminates the capsaicin’s ability to produce heat.
To apply this method, take a large bowl and fill it with cold whole milk and then soak the affected area for relief. You can also use a spray bottle to make it easier to rinse the eyes especially if you don’t have access to a bowl.
Hopefully, these tips will help out when you’ve stepped over the line or are caught by surprise by the power of pepper oil.