Jalapeno Hands…My Cooking Gone Wrong With Burns On My Hands!

I’m going to file this one away under things I wish my Mother had taught me. I had finally gotten my hands on my Step Mother’s salsa recipe which my husband LOVES. I picked up all the ingredients and was excited to make it for him. I love spicy foods but had incredibly never worked with fresh hot peppers before. I had some beautiful jalapenos to cut up for the salsa. I cored them and dug out the seeds with my fingers, scraping them out with my nails. I made my salsa and some homemade tortilla chips to boot and my hubby and I started chowing down on them. 
I finished up the taco meat and threw together our taco salads for dinner and sat down to eat with the family. I gave my baby some meat and couldn’t believe how spicy it was when I licked my fingers. I couldn’t believe my kids were eating it!
A few minutes later my fingers on my right hand started tingling and burning. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until I realized that it tasted spicy when I licked my fingers and it was the hand I had used to cut up the peppers. After washing my hands repeatedly only to have them burn even more I googled “Hands burning after cutting up jalapenos” and found a barrage of articles describing the painful experience.
Little had I known that you should wear GLOVES when cutting up hot peppers or risk encountering a chemical burn from the capsaicin contained within the pepper. Capsaicin is not water soluble which is why I couldn’t just wash away my jalapeno burn.

I proceeded to try just about every method I could find online to stop the burning which included slathering sour cream on my fingers, soaking them in alcohol, soaking them in milk, half vinegar/half water solution soak, washing under the hottest water possible, vaseline bandages, vegetable oil and applying ice. The sour cream gave relief but only while it was cold and then the burning returned. Same was true for the milk. The vinegar and water solution worked but only while my fingers were submerged in it and once removed the burning sensation returned. I was desperate for a cure and the burning was intense. Luckily I hadn’t touched my eyes or other areas on my body before realizing what was happening.

After trying all of these remedies, tweeting for help and ultimately finding no relief I decided to take two Motrin PM pills and just sleep it away. I took the pills and grabbed an ice pack and went to bed. Despite being groggy from the medicine I was STILL waking up through it due to the pain in my fingers. I kept changing ice packs and praying for relief come morning. I finally awakened at 4 am to find the burning sensation was greatly diminished. Thank God!

The slight pain and burning continued for at least another 24 hours after that. I slept in my contact to avoid touching my eyes and spreading the horrible burn to my eyes. What an awful experience and one that could’ve been avoided had I known to just wear gloves while cutting hot peppers! I hope this will save those of you that don’t know this yet!

If you are coming across this article because you have a burning sensation from cutting hot peppers then you can try the following remedies although I will admit that none cured my burn. The only thing that cured it was time. I was even careful to shower the next day with my hand in the air since the hot water can release the oils in your skin again causing the burning to come back! Here are some remedies that provided relief for me albeit not a cure:

  • Cover the area in a dairy product. Dairy products soothe jalapeno burns because they strip capsaicin from receptor sites on the skin. Use things like sour cream, yogurt, milk, cottage cheese or ice cream.
  • Milk and baking soda. Create a paste with milk and baking soda and apply to the affected area.
  • Soak area in a mixture of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water, preferably cold.
  • Take pain relievers
  • Apply ice pack
  • And most importantly next time WEAR GLOVES 🙂

I hope no one else has to go through this as it was really awful! Have you ever done this or did your Mother tell you to wear gloves?


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  1. I did this just a few weeks ago! Ummmmmm…HORRIBLE!!! Nothing helped! I tried everything on the internet & was miserable! GLOVES from now on! 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness!! I did this last summer after making bacon wrapped Jalapeno's and NEVER AGAIN will I ever touch a Jalapeno without doubling up on gloves!!!! My hands burned ALL day with no relief and they were red too. I swear I had 3rd degree burns. If I walked outside into the heat, it was even worse and I wanted to die. So painful!!

  3. Chalk me up as one of those peeps who this has had happened to! Last summer I was doing some home canning and was making pickled peppers and canning them. I had burns so bad that I had to go to the ER. ugh. Lesson learned with a $650 ER bill to show for it.

  4. I've also done this making my own salsa. I should know better as about 29 yrs. ago I lived in Phoenix & a friend was showing me how to make this salsa and he went to use the bathroom without washing his hands. he paid that price dearly!! It could have been worse …

  5. Thanks for the tip. I knew peppers could irritate your skin, but I didn't know they could cause such painful burns! I'll be extra careful if I ever happen to be handling hot peppers. I think capsaicin is what they use in pepper spray, so no wonder you were hurting. Hope you're feeling much better!

    1. Slicing up a bag of garden peppers from a friends garden, I sliced into a weird one. Suffering for almost 9 hrs now with my hands. Googled (how I got here) tried 50 home remedies. Just want to let people know that altho this certain remedy worked for YOU, it might just not be YOUR cure. Ignorance of peppers should be a health warning for all Bell type pepper lovers who are unaware of the hazards of what I encountered. Read somewhere after 24 hrs it finally quits, so I am hoping for that tonight. I have been from dairy to alcohol to cream and citrus….still on fire when they resume room temperature. Hoping I can find some time to sleep tonight amidst all this fire in my hands. Good luck all!

  6. I have been stupid enough to do this again! Tonight what has helped bring the pain down after trying so so so many different things was… OLIVE OIL… olive oil breaks down the pepper juices and then wash with dawn.. then repeat… Oils are suppose to break down he (HEAT) in the pepper, so I would try any kind of oils you can find. Good luck..

    1. I tried vegetable oil when I did this and didn’t have any relief. If I make this mistake again I’ll try olive oil instead!

  7. This happened to me last night. My hands were red, swollen, and in AGONY! I tried everything–dish washing liquid, olive oil, rubbing alcohol, heavy cream, ice cream, you name it. Even cool tap water felt like molten lava so I could barely tolerate it, let alone the hot water one blogger recommended. I got a raised blister on one finger, and the burning only let up while my hands were submerged in ice water. As soon as they warmed up, they were on fire again. I was *this close* to visiting Urgent Care.

    What finally helped was saliva. Gross, I know! My fingers hurt so bad, I put one in my mouth to soothe it and it tasted spicy, which told me the oils were still there, even after all that washing! But guess what? It felt a little better afterwards. Maybe the enzymes in my saliva were breaking down the pepper oil. After about a half hour of licking my fingers like a cat that stepped in tuna juice, both hands were cooled off enough that I could sleep. This makes me wonder if an enzyme-based laundry detergent might do the trick. It would be worth a try next time but, for me, there will BE no “next time”!

    I’ve learned my lesson: Never cut peppers with your bare hands. Ever.

    1. Oh my goodness! It is the worst ever!! It only happened to me once and I’ve been smart every since. Hard lesson learned. Interesting that the saliva helped but it makes sense as our mouths don’t suffer this same agony that our hands do! Thanks for sharing this tip and I hope it never happens to you again either!!

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