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HELP -- My fingers are throbbing from cutting jalapenos!

Okay, so I guess I'm an idiot. I knew I had to chop about a dozen jalapenos and it just never dawned on me to wear gloves. DOH (slaps forehead)! And now I'm paying for it. I've tried cold cream. I've tried ice water. I've even dunked my hand in half-and-half.

Any helpful tips out there? My fingers feel like they are on fire.


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  1. I've done that more times than I can tell you. And I know it hurts like shiznit, I'm sorry!

    Cold cream (like Ponds) or sour cream seem to help me most. There are a lot of other suggestions on this older thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/328433

    ETA: Half and half seems to work according to a lot of online reports, but only if you keep your hands covered in it. Don't wash it off under water or the pain will return. (Same deal with cold cream, which I just realized you already said you'd tried -- sorry. It needs to stay on your hands.)

    I'm also seeing a lot of mentions for hand sanitizer. Hopefully you have some of that around.

    Really hope you feel better, fast.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cimui

      Thank you. The link was helpful. I put veg oil on and now soaking in 1/2n1/2. The oil is helping the dairy "stick" so maybe that's why it's working better. Too bad I ate all the Fage last night!

    2. Well don't slap your forehead ;)

      My grandmother swears by yellow mustard.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lawgirl3278

        Or touch Other Parts, or heaven forfend, your eyes.

      2. Liquid soap works well for me, keeping the capsaicin from transferring to more sensitive body parts. Hmmm, never had tingling finger tips myself from prepping chile. OTOH eyes and nose are another story....

        BTW congrats - sounds like you actually can still get spicy jalapenos rather than the monster bland ones that now dominate here.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DiveFan

          Soap didn't do it for me. I got the jalapenos from the farmers' market. I just hope the salsa I'm canning isn't too too spicy!

        2. << DOH (slaps forehead)! >>

          I think you got away lightly from a second potential injury.

          The oils which carry the capsaicin do not dissolve in water. Try alcohol instead, or any industrial hand cleanser / degreaser.

          1. I get "hunan hand" quite a bit as I don't like cutting them w/ gloves on. My experience has been that it usually isn't worth the various remedies, and just deal with it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jgg13

              Vinegar and lemon juice both cutthe oil in chilis that carries capsaicin

            2. I was just reading Robb Walsh's Tex-Mex Cookbook, and he recommends a bleach dilution.

              1. Thanks to all of you. I tried the vinegar, alcohol, and dairy, and also the cold cream. I'm not sure which of the remedies worked. The pain went down after about 2 hours and was finally gone a couple of hours after that.

                I will *not* be cutting that many jalapenos again without gloves!

                Thanks again for everyone who offered solutions.

                3 Replies
                1. re: LNG212

                  Just glad to hear you feel better.

                  1. re: cimui

                    Let's just hope the six 1/2-pints of salsa that I canned turn out okay. Otherwise it was a total waste of all that pain (literally!) and effort. :) I do love those tomatoes and jalapenos from the greenmarket but now I know better when I'm using them in quantity. My first summer canning -- what can I say? I've learned.

                    1. re: LNG212

                      I'm sure they're fantastic!! Sometimes even milder-tasting peppers can burn like nuts on the skin. Your salsa is probably delicious for eating... just don't use it as a mask. ;)

                2. glad your hands are feeling better. still, though, don't rub your eyes or other sensitive skin for another day.

                  1. Just happened to me last night! I popped a BENEDRYL this morning as it usually works to stop allergic or other reactions your body has. My fingers were burning like crazy and stopped within an hour of taking the Benedryl. Give it a try.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dfw1one

                      This happened to me last night, too, except A) I was thinking about this exact thread and how I have such a high heat tolerance that this would never bother me and B) I scratched the inside of my nose. My husband got a good laugh when he came home from work to find my nose stuffed full of sour cream.

                    2. not that i've done this or anything like that. but... i would not recommend chopping up fresh habanero's and then removing your contact lenses. even if you've washed the hands in everything caustic known to man for several hours.

                      1. You can also take Tylenol or Advil. Sounds weird but it helps with the inflammation and reduces the pain. Worked for me when I did the same thing.

                        1. I recently did the same thing and this really hurts. I cut just two jalapenos, washed the dishes and shortly after my fingers started burning. The burning got worse and worse. Like many of the posts here, I too tried just about everything. I started with the cold water, then tried Dawn - no luck. I then tried baking soda, which helped a little bit, but the burning came back. I also tried vinegar - nothing, then alcohol, again nothing. I called Poison Control and they suggested Milk of Magnesia. This did nothing to help, but ironically cold milk did help. I soaked my hands in the milk for about two hours, refreshing with cold milk from time to time. I also found that it helped to hold a dry ice pack. I used the ones you slide in the drinks to keep them cold. This worked really good. Also, I took a Benedryl and an Advil and within a few hours I felt better. My advice is to try the baking soda and milk, and if you have an Advil or Tylenol - take it. The pain is really bad with this.

                          1. I did this last night. I tried warm water first (biggest mistake aside from not wearing gloves). Then I tried chocolate milk (just more convenient), vinegar,ice water, aloe vera burn gel, honey, sourcream, lime juice in ice water, white milk and finally after 7 hours and reaching desperation I urinated on my own hand. It actually worked the best but the burning did come back. I did it twice and after the second time I was able to fall asleep. when I woke up an hour later the burning had stopped. I mostly learned that everything but the pee felt good because it was cold so I mostly kept my fingers in ice water after all those remedies offered little help. After 7 hours in various cold things my fingers started to burn from frost bite or something and I couldn't do the cold water anymore either. None of the remedies hurt so I would recommend trying them. Some things I didn't try but saw while looking for cures is bleach (not toilet), salt and a medical burn spary called bastine. I would have gone for the bastine but by the time I found the article it was too late to send anyone to the pharmacy and I was in so much pain I couldn't drive myself. I didn't realize jalapenos burn at all so I dug the insides out with my finger nails, never touching one again.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: lucyfur

                              How can I go 47 years on this earth and then dig out 2 jalapenos and be in this predicament. Bleach seemed to help but the burning is returning! My husband is now in charge of all hot pepper prep!

                            2. Try Goof Off. Works very quickly. Don't forget to wash your hands with soap and cold water when done. It apparently cuts right through the pepper oil. Just tried it myself as an experiment, and I was amazed!

                              1. I'm surprised no one has mentioned washing with baking soda. That's the only thing that works for me.