If you’ve ever handled fresh or dried chillies, you’ve probably experienced that burning sensation on your fingers and hands at one time or another. That painful, burning feeling comes from the capsaicin in chilies and chili peppers like jalapeños.
You’ve also probably found out that washing your hands in soap and water – however long you do it – didn’t relieve the burn.
Here are some tips on how to get rid of chili burn.
How to get rid of chili burn
1) Try dabbing some lemon or lime juice (vinegar will work too) on the affected areas.
Why this works: The acid in lemon/lime juice or vinegar counteracts the alkaline in the chili’s capsaicin. This also explains why you only get chili burn from handling fresh or dried chilies and not chili sauces (because most chili sauces already has some acidic content in it, like lemon juice or vinegar).
2) Rub some oil (e.g. olive oil, coconut oil, etc) over your hands after cutting the chilies. Then wash off with soap and water.
Why this works: Capsaicin is oil-soluble, so rubbing oil over it loosens the compound.
3) Run your hands through your hair. A commenter (AL) shared that running your hands through your hair can work to soothe the burning sensation. Other commenters (Rivrey & sherods) have also confirmed that this works!
AL wrote: “my wife had this issue today, She tried all the suggested remedies, from baking soda, alcohol. milk. calamine lotion, and ice, and experiencing this agony since noontime . Out of desperation, she was just brushing up her hair with her both hands just to soothe the pain, she noticed the slowly diminishing, until she total felt no more burning pain in couple of hours. I can’t believed it works, but it did. Try it , Give us some feedback if it works for you. Gook luck !”
Rivrey wrote: “I was roasting and peeling HOT green peppers today. My hands were burning to the point that I was soaking the ice water on this really cold day! I rubbed vegetable oil and salt into my hands. It worked for awhile. Now I have been running my hands and fingers down and through my hair. It’s actually working!”
Why this works: The only thing I can think of is that this has something to do with static electricity and a transfer of the positive/negative charge between hair and chili-burned fingers.
4) Scrub your hands in hot water and soap. Michael commented that the only thing that worked for him was washing and scrubbing his hands under fairly hot water with plenty of soap for 1-2 minutes. Several other commenters also said it had worked for them. According to Michael, this was “painful but effective”. 👍🏻
How to avoid getting chili burn in the first place
Wear surgical gloves before handling chilies
Why this works: The waterproof barrier prevents the chili from ever touching your skin. Remember not to touch your eyes or face while wearing the gloves. Throw them away after use.