HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


how to get pepper oil off my face and hands

Chopped some home grown peppers tonight, and i thought they were not the hot kind...regardless, I have oil on my hands and in my nose, and it's burning....I just took off my contacts...yikes.

How do I get it off. I tried soap, and it's kind of still there. Soap again?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. A degreasing agent. Washing up liquid does better than soap, but a something that takes engine oil stains off works well. Some people recommend yoghurt.

    1. If it's on your face, I wouldn't really recommend anything stronger than soap. Try using liquid soap (and plenty of it). If that fails, you can try dish washing liquid, but that might sting.

      1. Well, I can't really help you for your face, but alcohol should neutralize the capsaicin. Whenever I'm handling peppers, I fill a small ramekin with rubbing alcohol and soak my fingers in it when I'm done. Soap and water doesn't cut it, it really gets in around your nails and such.

        Reminds me of the time I was doing something or other with habaneros. I washed my hands, and then scratched my nose (I wasn't picking, really!). You can imagine the fallout.

        As far as your face goes, sorry, but the tears will eventually flush things out.



        1 Reply
        1. re: brianl999

          i don't think alcohol "neutralizes" capsaicin. i think it does act as a solvent, to help release capsaicin from skin surfaces, though.

          best for washing up: oily soap and lots of lukewarm water.

        2. Citric acid works well, in my experience.

          Whenever I make guacamole, I always reserve half a lime to squeeze over my hands to neutralize the capsaicin from the peppers.

          1. Immersing your hands in yoghurt or milk should stop the burning. I guess you could apply the yoghurt to your face.

            1. as brianl999 said alcohol works well I agree with that and also sea breeze face cleaner works well

              1. Obviously a suggestion that is too late, but, if it happens again, try a chemical exfoliant (like a face wash with salicylic acid or glycolic acid. Part of the issue is that the oils in the peppers readily absorb in to any dry skin cells they find on your face or hands. At that point, the only way to get rid of them is to get rid of the dry skin cells. A physical exfoliant (like a face scrub) is not a good option as it can created scratches in the skin for the oil to penetrate.

                7 Replies
                1. re: danieljdwyer

                  with all due respect, daniel, the last thing i'd suggest is a chemical exfoliant to deal with capsaicin. talk about burn upon burn!

                  i wonder how rubbing an oatmeal paste might work, hmmm? that just occurred to me. oatmeal helps with itchy skin, and might help absorb/alleviate capsaicin.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    I can definitely see where it would seem like a chemical exfoliant would add to the burn, but it always works for me (and I have this issue a lot, because I nearly always separate the seeds from the pepper so that I can use the separately, even if both are going in the same dish, and i like to use my fingers to do this, and stubbornly refuse to wear gloves). Glycolic and salicylic face washes are formulated with such a low amount of the acid that they tend to be among the gentlest cleansers. They are certainly far less harsh than alcohol or the vast majority of soaps, which both tend to strip moisture from the skin without penetrating beyond the top layer.
                    Oatmeal might work very well. Citrus oil also works to a degree. I've used a lemon peel, rubbed on my face, to calm the burn in the past when I was picnicking and had nothing else on hand. If nothing else, the pleasant smell will distract from the unpleasant burn.

                    1. re: danieljdwyer

                      then maybe they need to sell some stridex pads next to the serranos now? ;-)).

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Oh jeez. It's been awhile, but I remember those things smelling terrible. Teenagers must either not care about smell, or not have fully developed olfactory bulbs. Products for adults almost always smell way better (without sounding too effeminate, the ones formulated for middle aged ladies trying to minimize smile lines are often quite pleasant).
                        This one just came to mind: plain old witch hazel works pretty well, used after the skin has been washed.

                        1. re: danieljdwyer

                          not to venture too far afield, but i think all those teenager products have been upgraded in the scent department. witch hazel (my high school friend's beloved -- and relatively cheap -- "sea breeze") has a nice, bracing scent.

                          1. re: danieljdwyer

                            Stridex, etc, doesn't really smell bad any more, if I recall from when my son was a teen. Anyway, you rinse it off afterward.

                    2. re: danieljdwyer

                      THANK YOU for suggesting this. I signed up for this site just to say that! I blew my nose after cutting hot peppers and YIKES. I've never been so happy to still be stuck with acne IN MY LIFE. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash followed with All-in-1 Acne Control (2% and 1% salicylic acid, respectively) killed 95% percent of the burn. I was actually starting to panic the burning was getting so bad. THANK YOU!!!

                    3. It may sound weird, but I have found that a good rub down with olive oil, and then a wash helps my hands, and face. I believe I heard somewhere that the olive oil mixes with the capsaicin which then is rinsed off with a good wash.
                      Sounded like hogwash pseudo-science to me, but when you're half blind with jalapeno-eye, you'll try anything.
                      Now, I just do it every time, and as long as I'm not absent-minded, I don't get the burn any more.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ssharp

                        Penelope Cruz taught me to rub my hands w/ olive oil BEFORE one works w/ chiles and then to wash hands afterward. I tried it and it works.

                      2. Does anyone besides me use gloves when cleaning chiles/peppers? Just those cheap, disposable latex or vinyl ones? That works.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: jeff_in_redmond

                          when i lived in Seoul, my room-mate's mother was so glad we let her wear gloves when she made kim-chee. her husband wouldn't let her, said he could taste the rubber flavor in the kim-chee. what suprised me is he stopped by unexpectedly once, i served him some rice, kim-chee and egg salad, and he immediately knew we had let her wear gloves.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            Were they latex gloves? I can see someone sensitive to latex being able to detect it. I doubt they would detect vinyl glove aroma. Also, maybe he made a lucky guess to yank someone's chain? :) Sounds like something I'd do!

                        2. Avoid the issue. The chain Smart & Final (and, I'm sure, all restaurant supply stores) have boxes of 100 food prep gloves for cheap. I use them whenever I handle hot peppers. I also use them whenever I handle raw chicken/pork. Part of the reason is that I have eczema, so open cuts on my hands are common, but mostly it is just damned convenient. Work w/problem materials, strip gloves off, done!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rainier_wolfcastle

                            i definitely use those latex prep gloves for prepping raw chicken.

                            often, i've already chopped the peppers before i think of putting on the gloves, though.

                          2. Don't waste time with soap: it may shift the oils that carry the capsaicin around a little, but the capsaicin itself will already have bound to your skin and be doing its thing.

                            I helped out once or twice in the ER at New York Hospital some years back (I was a psych nurse), and on one of these stints a resident taught me the trick (we always had an upswing in cases of "Hunan Hand" as the holidays came on...). The cure is simple and straightforward. You dissolve a couple of tablespoons of chlorine bleach in a quart of water, mix well, and immerse your hands in it. The bleach solution snaps the capsaicin molecule in pieces and renders it harmless. This provides more or less instant relief (the quicker you apply this remedy, the better). Wet a cloth with the solution and use it carefully on other areas of skin that may be suffering.

                            Obviously you can't use this stuff on your eyes. But for that there's another remedy. Contact lens wetting solution breaks the capsaicin molecule in exactly the same way as the weak bleach solution does.

                            Meanwhile: next time wear gloves even if you think you've got tame peppers. ;)

                            1 Reply
                            1. Plain yogurt, straight from the fridge. Rub it on your hands and face and let it sit for a couple minutes, then rinse. the enzymes in it neutralize the burn.

                              1. When taking gourmet cooking lessons from a local chef, he taught me a trick used by chefs regarding hot chilis. Rub your hands with a little vegetable oil first. It seals the skin and makes removal of the capsaicin with regular dish washing soap much easier. He said that one of their favorite tricks was that while chopping hot chilis, they would walk behind new chefs and wipe a streak on the backs of their necks. Got them moving!

                                1. I just had this problem. I guess I breathed in the oils as I was seeding dried Habaneros for next years garden. I tried beer, yogurt, Dawn, and Pepto Bismal. Yes, the pink stuff was recommended, really. Finally some one suggested butter. So using three Q-tips, it worked! This was real butter now, unsalted. Don't know if salted would work, but I wouldn't waste my time on margarines .

                                  1. I used a wooden handled knife to cut, deseed and devein Ghost peppers. (I did use gloves) I washed the knife using Polmolive dish soap which ususlly cuts grease VERY well. I then touched the tip of my tongue to the wooden handle and the heat was still there. I remembered that ordinary household bleach is supposed to destroy fats and oils . (That is why your hands feel slick when you get bleach on them. It is disolving/attacking the fat cells on your hands.) The handle foamed slightly, I rubbed it with a soapy dishrag, rinsed it off, licked the handle again and now no burn. All the burning oils were gone. Try using a little bleach next time. It works for me. The bleach thing works on your hands as well.