Help! My chili peppers have burned my tongue! or Help! My chili peppers have burned my skin! How do you stop the chili pepper burn?
As a spicy food lover, it's bound to happen. You're chopping jalapeno peppers or other hot peppers for your meal and some of it gets on your skin and starts to burn, or you take a bite of your freshly prepared spicy dish and whoa, the spicy heat is just too much.
Honestly, this happens to the best of us. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to alleviate the jalapeno burn or chili pepper burn from your skin and from eating hot peppers.
Chili Pepper Burn on the Skin
The best way to avoid chili pepper burns on the skin is to wear gloves when handling them, nitrile gloves in particular. The reason hot peppers can burn your skin is because they contain an oily substance called "capsaicin" that sticks to your skin.
Capsaicin is the substance that makes chili peppers "hot" and spicy, so avoiding the oil is the ideal way to go. However, we often forget to wear gloves or just don't think of it, which can cause burning not only on the hands, but on other sensitive parts of the body that you touch with your hands, particularly your eyes.
Below are several ways you can combat the jalapeno heat or other hot pepper heat on your skin, or "hot pepper hands". Some are my own recommendations, but also some ideas are from spicy food readers who have shared their own personal experiences.
Be sure to read the comments below to learn other ways people have alleviated the heat for themselves.
Dish Soap and Water - Recommended
Dish soaps are meant to help clean oily plates, so they can be effective in washing away the chili oil from your burning skin. If you feel burning on your skin from handling hot peppers, wash them very thoroughly with water and dish soap several times to work the oils off of your skin.
Use Milk (or other Dairy) - Recommended
Dairy products like milk contain the chemical "casein" that combats the effects the capsaicin (the chemical that makes peppers hot) by stripping it from its receptor site on the skin.
To use milk to help stop the jalapeno burn, soak your hands in milk in a shallow bowl for several minutes, or until the heat subsides. If needed, wash your hands again thoroughly with dish soap and soak them again in milk.
Consider using milk, yogurt, sour cream or crema, or even ice cream to soak the burning skin.
Here are some other suggestions from spicy food lovers.
The oil that makes chili peppers hot, capsaicin, is more soluble in alcohol, so a quick rub down with rubbing alcohol (or even a high proof booze) can help wipe it from your skin. Just be careful, as the initial application of rubbing alcohol can cause an initial burning or stinging sensation.
Oils can be effective in helping to dissolve the burning chili oils. Dab some olive oil or any other vegetable oil onto your burning skin with cotton balls or a napkin. Soak or wipe the skin to help dissipate the chili pepper burn.
Weak Bleach Solution
This is according to Alton Brown of "Good Eats". He says to douse your already burning hands in a mild solution of 5 to 1 water to bleach. The bleach helps wash away the capsaicin that hasn't yet absorbed into your skin.
Baking Soda or Corn Starch Paste
Starches can help draw out the oil from your burning skin so you can wash it away and possibly neutralize it. Use 1 tablespoon of baking soda or corn starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water to form a paste. Rub this into your skin and scrub to remove the oils causing the hot pepper burn.
Please note that the chili pepper burning sensation on your skin will dissipate over time, so don't think it's going to last forever. For most people it lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, so give it time. It's not actual "burning" or damaging, only the sensation of burning, so you don't need to worry.
Hopefully this helps you find some relief with your burning skin.
Stopping Chili Pepper Burning in the Eyes
If you've been handling hot peppers and then touched your eyes, they can starts to burn and sting, as your eyes are extremely sensitive. If this happens, the best thing to do is to soak a paper towel in milk, then hold it to your burning eye.
The milk contains a chemical called "casein" that counteracts the burning chemical, "capsaicin", which makes hot peppers hot.
Stop the Burn from Eating Hot Peppers
Many of us have experience the burn after taking a bite of something too spicy. Often it's a bit too much hot sauce or an unexpected bit of heat at a spicy food restaurant, or you've simply miscalculated the heat of a pepper from your garden.
If you are experiencing mouth burn or tongue burn from eating jalapeno peppers or other hot peppers, here is what to do.
Because of the innate hotness of all chili peppers, they can burn not only the inside of your mouth, but your skin as well. If you find that you simply can't bear the heat after eating a chile pepper, try to consume a dairy product, like milk, yogurt, or ice cream.
Dairy products contain a chemical called casein that combats the effects of capsaicin (the chemical that makes peppers hot) by stripping it from its receptor site on the skin.
Milk can take some time to quell an intense burn, but it works. You'll notice an initial dissipation of the heat, but extremely hot peppers and foods can persist, so continue with the milk or dairy. Rinse and then swallow if necessary.
I've also tried sugar and that seems to work in a pinch. Sugar can help absorb some of the hot chili oil and can reduce the burn.
The burning heat from eating spicy foods will eventually dissipate over time, so at least you know it won't last forever, even though it may feel that way at the moment.
I hope this helps. Again, please review the many reader comments below who've shared their own experiences and methods for combating burning skin, burning eyes, and burning tongues from eating hot peppers and other spicy foods.
Share Your Experience - Help Others
If you've found a solution that worked for you, please share your methods below to help others stop the chili pepper burn.
NOTE: This post was updated on 5/17/22 to include new information. It was originally published on 6/20/14.