Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Apr 19, 2009 07:39 PM

Getting rid of the sting of capsaicin

I passed along a recipe for harissa to a friend -- and she just made a big batch of it without wearing gloves. I thought she knew so I didn't mention it -- she's an experienced cook, but she thought it was only the fresh ones that cause pain. So now, as I recall, that pain will go on for a day or two. Does anyone have any effective remedies for the stinging, burning pain you get when you cut up chiles without wearing gloves?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What works best for me is Gojo. It's a mechanic's handcleaner that strips oils away pretty effectively, and has a pumice abrasive to facilitate getting everything off. It takes off the capsicum, but it also takes off the naturally-ocurring oils, so it's not something you want to use any more than you have to. Other suggestions I've heard are yogurt (probably easier on the skin) and bleach (probably worse). Meanwhile, do not under any circumstances remove or insert contact lenses. Don't ask me how I know this...

    10 Replies
    1. re: alanbarnes

      I use milk, yogurt too, cottage cheese, anything creamy works best. I got some in my eye last week by a habanero ... OUCH! Well used some milk and worked pretty good.

      Scrub hands with lemon, vinegar or rub with oil before cutting. The oil is hard but just the sent helps to avoid the burn.

      Cutting doesn't bother me but if I touch my mouth or eyes ... yes.

      1. re: kchurchill5

        I had occasion to try milk this weekend (those banana peppers I cut up were hotter than I thought!)--just poured some over my hands and rubbed them for a minute. It worked pretty well.

      2. re: alanbarnes

        Try to avoid using the bathroom for the next couple hours too.

        Don't ask me how I know that one.....


          1. re: Davwud

            Gives "hot and bothered" a whole new meaning, don't it?

            1. re: Davwud

              The tubes of capsaicin-based arthritis cream really should have black-box warnings about not using on knees until after you put on your skivvies, and not to sit on a toilet until you've
              washed your knees thoroughly. Not only did I learn these things the hard way, but the knees of my mail-carrier uniform
              had a permanent rust-colored stain.

              I once had a bad back-ache and asked a co-worker to position one of those capsaicin pain patches on it (this was before the knee thing). After 2 hours of sorting mail, I could no longer stand the pain of the pain patch, which entirely eclipsed the muscle ache. I peeled it off and was surprised to see how red the skin was. It looked, and felt, like a bad sunburn, and took as long to go away. No wonder I have little interest in, or tolerance for, peppery-hot foods.

              1. re: greygarious

                Capsaicin is the active molecule in any spicy food that gives that food its heat. Also capsaicin is extremely potent for if ingested directly(i mean through any CLEAR and i stress this word, hot sauce and i'll say it again for dramatic effect. If the hot sauce is CLEAR with absolutely no discoloration) it can rupture the stomach lining and potentially cause death[in some rare cases ]. Which is why some hot sauces such as Mad Dog 357 comes with a disclaimer and warning before you buy it

            2. re: alanbarnes

              I washed my hands in mayo, and it worked for me.

              1. re: alanbarnes

                Crap. How will I remove my contacts. I was hoping after washing my hand with alcohol and dish soap I could remove them even if my fingers still burn, but after reading alanbarnes comment. I think it may not be a good idea.

              2. A few squirts of WD40 to loosen the capsaicin, and followed by gojo, as alan suggested...and use a nail brush. That chile oil can hang around for days, otherwise.

                1. I treat it like other burns, with aloe vera.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chowser

                    First, it's not really a burn. Second, it's not something a soothing ointment or aloe will help cure. Think of it more like an irritation. Aloe might make it feel cool and refreshing for a few minutes but it does not treat the underlying problems.

                    The other suggestions people have posted work to treat the problem at its source.

                  2. Capsaicin is soluble in oil, and not soluble in water. Anything that can remove oil from your skin may help. It's important to get this quickly, though, since things which are effective tend to be harsh. If your skin has actually "burned", as opposed to just being uncomfortable, I'd say use aloe vera and otherwise leave it alone.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: embee

                      I came here last night after burning my hands severely.
                      I was in SO MUCH pain, it was horrendous!
                      I tried EVERYTHING on this thread except the urine (yuck!) & nothing worked, even the HOT HOT water.
                      On another site I read if you pour 2 tablespoons of oil in your hand & rub it in, then rub in a tablespoon of salt (exfoliating every part of your hands for a minute or 2 - it hurts!!) that it helps to draw out the chilli oil... IT WORKED!!
                      After the exfoliating my pain dropped by 50% & within the hour by 90%. This morning I can BARELY feel last nights terror.
                      Please try it if you've come here desperate!
                      I tried:
                      Lime water
                      Lime juice straight
                      Sour cream
                      HOT HOT water
                      & finally the oil/salt method WORKED!
                      Good luck & I feel your pain, it's AWFUL!

                      1. re: emmas777

                        I know you wrote this last year, but I wanted to let you know that I made myself some soup and added Tapatio, but I made it to WAY spicy and ended up getting the capsacin on my upper lip and in my nose. I tried the oil thing (olive oil, no salt though, as I was in too much pain to read that far), and within a few minuets, the pain was almost gone. It's now a minor annoyance as I can feel my pulse in my nose, but oh, that advice was more than amazing. Thank you so much.

                    2. I had a bad time this Sunday with Thai chili pepper capsaicin that had apparently sprated onto my wrist/forearm when cutting the peppers - brushed my eye with it, and WOW! Washed it out with cool water, but it took a while before I was comfortable. Anyone know of any other way to soothe this?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: buttertart

                        I just did it to my eye. Cotton ball in milk for me and within 5 minutes it felt much better. Took a bit to feel completely better, but at least I could open it. I'm lucky that it doesn't bother my skin but the mouth area it does. I grabbed a glass and aparantely close to the rim and then took a sip. Bad mistake, but again milk worked for me.