Have you ever sliced open a hot pepper only to realize you had a paper cut, or worse yet, getting hot pepper in the eye? If so, you know the experience isn’t the most pleasant. Heck, most people would rather have a dental extraction without Novocain then have to deal with a hot pepper burn.
It’s that bad. Getting hot pepper in the eye or skin will seriously ruin a nice evening.
How to protect yourself when handling hot peppers
Since it wouldn’t be feasible to don a Hazmat suit, every time you’re handling hot peppers, you will want to make sure you’re wearing gloves. Although the type of latex gloves you can purchase from the drugstore (or swipe them from your doctor’s office), will work in a pinch; they’re not your best option. You see, the capsaicin oil which the hot pepper produces is so strong, it can penetrate the glove. Your best bet would be to use a heavy rubber glove, like the kind you use to wash your dishes.
Sure, that may be cumbersome, but sometimes having to deal with an awkward situation is better than having to deal with the tingling, and burning you’ll experience while handling the hot pepper.
You may think I’m going off the deep end here, but as an added extra precaution, you may want to don yourself a pair of goggles or other types of protective eyewear. There’s nothing worse than getting hot pepper oil in your eye.
Tips to remember when handling hot peppers:
- Regardless if you’re wearing gloves or not, don’t touch your eyes, nose, or face while cutting hot peppers.
- If you wear contact lenses, don’t remove or put them in after touching, handling or cutting hot peppers, for at least an hour.
- Washing with soap and water will not remove all of the capsaicin oil, which means you can transfer the oil to your family members, your family dog, your clothes, etc.., so it’s best if you don’t touch anyone for a while after handling hot peppers. The oil is transferable. Not only will it remain on your skin, but it’ll transfer to whoever you touch.
- When wearing gloves that touched hot pepper, and you either get a phone call or text, don’t answer it, as the capsaicin oil may transfer to your phone. You may forget you touched it, and several hours later, you find your ears feel like they’re on fire.
- Immediately after handling hot peppers, don’t pet your pets or touch your kids, as they may feel the scorching.
What to do if you accidentally got hot peppers on your skin
Contrary to popular belief, washing your hands with hot soapy water will not get read of the capsaicin oil on your skin. The reason for this is, the oil isn’t water-soluble, so it’s not going to dissolve. What the water will do is to spread the burning.
Before you wash your hands, you’ll have to neutralize the burning.
How to neutralize the burning from hot peppers
What to do when the oil from hot peppers make skin contact.
Aloe Vera gel works wonderfully to reduce the burning sensation from hot peppers.
To remove the oil from your hands, you’ll want to squeeze some dish soap directly onto your skin. Dawn seems to work the best since it’s famous for repelling oil. Rub it into your skin for 3 to 5 minutes, then rinse with water. Continue doing this until the burning sensation has subsided.
Full-fat milk or sour cream
Dairy products are very helpful when you’re experiencing a hot pepper burn. Although milk and sour cream won’t get rid of the oil, the combination between the fat and the milk proteins will reduce the burn.
If your hands are severely feeling the effects of the hot pepper, you may want to soak your hands in a bowl full of full-fat, regular milk. Sour cream works brilliantly as well and works a bit better since it’s so thick it will cling to your skin better than milk will.
If you try this with low-fat or no-fat dairy, it won’t reduce the burning.
Vinegar, aka the miracle worker, is great for reducing the burning sensation. Vinegar’s acid neutralizes the alkalinity of capsaicin. You can use white, apple cider, balsamic, red wine, etc..
You’ll want to soak your hands in vinegar for around 15 minutes.
What to do when your get hot pepper in the eye
If you get hot pepper in your eye, try not to flip out. If you wear contacts, remove them immediately and throw them out. There’s no amount of sterilizing solution that will remove the capsaicin oil.
Your tears will naturally flush away the capsaicin. Crying may be a natural occurrence for some once you get that oil in your eye, but if that’s not the case, you’ll want to keep blinking your eyes until they start to water. Of course, your reflex would be to close your eyes and put your hands up to them, but that will just make the burning worse.
You can also try to use a saline solution to flush out the remaining oil. Continue to blink until the pain goes away.
When it comes to your eyes, if you do happen to get hot pepper oil in them, you may want to consult your eye care professional for a follow-up visit. One can never be too careful when it comes to your eyes.
Squirt milk in your eye
I’m not kidding on this one. As mentioned above, milk will reduce burning. Trying to get milk into your eye may be a feat, but you can always put some in a clean spray bottle or water bottle then drop the milk into your eyes.
Another method that works is to submerge a paper towel in milk and place it over your open eyes. For this, it may be easier if you’re in a lying down position. If you’re going to go this route, make sure you washed your hands off before touching the paper towel. The better choice would be for someone else to soak the paper towel for you.
The best advice I can give you is to always pay attention to what you’re doing when you’re handling hot peppers. When you’re preparing your meal, make sure to pay attention to what you’re doing. Sure, hot pepper burns on the skin are bad, but the last thing you’ll ever want to deal with is getting hot pepper in your eye.
Had you ever had a mishap while handling hot peppers? Share in a comment.
Until we meet again