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Avoiding chilli burn

20 January 2004 - 2:46pm -- Joseph

Over Christmas I discovered a useful technique for avoiding chili burn. You know, when you cut up chillies and then rub your eyes, or touch other sensitive parts, and wish you hadn't? I find it hard to get the chilli off my hands, soap and water doesn't seem to work to well. Then it hit me... Chilli dissolves in fat (which is why yoghurt drinks and sour cream cool the palette much more effectively than drinking water or beer). So, to get the chilli off your hands, 'wash' them with olive oil, (or any other oil-based substance). Hey presto! No more sting. So there you go.... And my hands felt all soft afterwards too. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

To celebrate this kitchen triumph, I finally got round to putting up the magnetic knife-rack we received as a Wedding present (thanks Richie!). It looks very cool, too (knives, grrrrr!!!!!). Expect more handy kitchen tips the next time I come over all 'Good house keeping', approximately never.

Update As noted by Charlie in a comment below (thanks Charlie), lemon/lime juice seems to provide actual relief to the burning sensation. I'm assuming therefore that the chilli 'burn' is an alkaline burn, which is relieved by the application of an acid such as lemon juice (though that's just a guess). The oil washing method is a good way of removing the chilli from your hands, thus preventing chilli burn, but doesn't seem to provide much relief from the burning itself. So, to summarize,

Preventing Chilli burn

To prevent Chilli burn, use an oil-based substance (such as olive oil) to remove traces of chilli from your hands.

Relieving Chilli burn

For relief from Chilli burn, apply a (safe) acid such as lemon juice to the effected area.


Hi Folks !

I have a few pepper plants in the backyard ..these are a cross between Chili and Hell . I generally cut them up into strips , sun dry them for a few days and blend into powder which I give away to neighbours. My last cutting set my hands on fire with vinegar helping a bit. The burning was so bad that it caused the tip of my fingernails to peel. I will definitely try lemon juice the next time .

my nose burns so much just by handling 2 small chillies my mum told me they were very hot hot hot

peace homes

I was using chilli when making chutney with my mum, when she acciudentally got some near her eye, and i got pain on my lips, so i thought... CUCUMBER! this cooled down the stinging alot. I then used oily washing up liquid on my hands as out of olive oil. This worked really well.

cut some chillis that says extra hot on the packageing with NO gloves... stupid!... last night slight tingly sensation... this morning... nothing till i took my bath... boy! the burning came... soaking my hands in water did nothing only made it worse... wanted to wear my contacts, oh no! doesn't work... searched internet and came across your entries... first time i doused my fingers in lemon juice - the pain went away and came back in 30 secs... what did for me - 3 Tbsp of salt with 3 Tbsp of olive oil ... rubbed my hands for 5-10min... pain went away... washed my hands with water and rubbed my hands in yoghurt... then last lemon juice... Now, everything is back to normal and have put on my contacts... all in under 30 min

Thank God for this post! My fingertips & under my fingernails have been burning for an hour after handling a serrano pepper. Hooray for lemon juice!

It took FIVE HOURS of icing, soaking in olive oil, soaking in vinegar, soaking in lemon juice, soaking in sour cream, washing with water, coating with salt, and then icing again before my fingers finally felt better. I also took ibuprofin. I guess I have more sensitive skin than most people.

I recommend icing until numb, then soaking in olive oil as long as you can stand it. Then icing again until numb. Then soaking in vinegar or lemon juice as long as you can stand it. Then wash & coat with salt. Keep it on as long as you can stand it. Then take a break and ice again as long as you need to. Then repeat it all. This is what it took for me to get rid of the burn. Good luck. It's misery. But keep with it! It will go away!

My husband was making spicy chili and added a extra hot chili to the mix he did wash his hands really good just not very good.well later that night we decided to have some partner fun. Well I'll wont tell you what happened,but let me tell you my sensitive parts were burning like mad!!!!!!. I tried sitting in a bath, didn't work, I used goats milk soap and it didn't work I tried antibacterial hand sanitizer it didn't work. lemon juice and still nothing right now I have a sponge filled with olive oil and it is slightly bearable. plus taking Advil.

needless to say no nigh time nookie for this cookie :'(

but thank you cause I can at least cuddle and try to sleep!

I cleaned two chilis, using my thumb and forefinger to scrape out the seeds and ribs, not realizing they were the hottest #$^#$ chilis I'd ever bought. This sort of burn I've never experienced, it's almost like it penetrates the skin and sets the nerves on fire. So far I've tried lemon juice. That doesn't help. Will try olive oil next.
Boy, I learned a lesson!

Unfortunately neither the olive oil nor the lemon worked for me; in my case, it only made it worse! :(

Was just forced to help my husband who had scratched his privates whilst chopping a chilli, found your link straight away and have helped him with the lemon juice and olive oil and it worked perfectly thankyou! (I think he'd like it appiled again without the burn but thats a no no! :/) x

AAAA thankyou so much for your chilli burn relief,it really works.I was handling scotch bonnets,then went to answer the calll of nature,I have never experienced such burning.

Thanks. I got burns on my nose--no idea how. I actually used some olive oil. Worked well. Still a little buggy, but not as bad as it was.

My husband has been in agony for 2 hours after making about a dozen jalapeno poppers. Unfortunately, his hands were already chapped (cold weather) and I think that because of that, the chili really got into his skin. He tried, cold water (temporary relief) ice packs (said burned his hands more) baking soda, lemon juice, dish soap, olive oil (temp relief), salt, no help, then tried washing his hands again with Lever 2000... he said it took his pain from an 8 to a 6 but is slowly feeling the pain creep back up to an 8. Hopefully more oil and Lever 2000 washes will make the pain go away :o(

Hi thanks for your post.
Had I read through the whole post first then I'd have seen that olive oil was the preventative method. I did use the lemon juice after covering my hands with then rinsing off the olive oil.
Lemon juice - instant relief - for a few minutes. Then neat vodka - few minutes further relief.
Pain creeps back *I must be a baby*.
As it's New Year's Eve - I'm going to grin throw a few drinks down my neck - all being well I'll forget about the pain! What's worse chili burn or menopausal hot flashes? I'll let you know tomorrow hehe

Thankyou so much for this! I literally just had a break down in the kitchen from a burning nose! I use chilli alot but have never suffered chilli burn like this! I googled straight away in a panic and luckily found this! THANKYOU! Pain is gone now! :))

Your commentary on removing chili burn saved my life!
Or at least that's how it felt after I removed serrano chili residue from my FACE.
I used coconut milk, followed by olive oil.

YOWEEEEEEeeee!!! Thought I would include some of my newly fruited home grown Thai Chillies-4 of them, 2 yellow & 2 purple in my cooking. I usually ALWAYS chop chillies with a small sharp knike and a folk. Well 'usually' was forgotten as I was so excited to be chopping up some home grown produce *Der!* I also used left hand and fingers to scrape the remnant chilli pieces and seeds into the pan *Der!* and in my haste to get on with cooking forgot to wash my hands *Double Der!*.....after dinner and after doing dishes could not work out why my tops of fingers and knuckle areas were, to put it mildly, BURNING LIKE HELL!!!.....washed my hands several times....*pain* intensified....worked out what caused it *triple Der!* is a gem isn't it?!
I wet my fingers, rolled my fingers in lots of table salt (keep a bag in pantry) & hung in there for 20 minutes. Then I rinsed and 'swished' my fingers in a bowl of cold full cream milk (about a cup's worth) for 2 minutes then washed my hands with a squirt of washing up liquid and water. Worked an absolute treat. But you have to wait the 20 minutes with the salt.....I did not feel much relief til the 15 minute mark. *HIGHLY RECOMMEND* this salt+milk +soap&water remedy :))

After chopping Habanero chillies from my garden I foolishly rubbed by lip & nose. I read about toothpaste to relieve the burning. I have had the the paste on my face for about 10 minutes now and the burning has completly gone :)

Amazingly, lemon juice eased it straight away! Now my 13 year old daughter, who had been chopping small red chillis, can get to sleep, and so can I. Thanks!

I touched chilli's with my hands at 7pm, its now 12.30am and I'm still in absolute agony. Sooooo painful, I've tried salt, vinegar, lemon, oil and nothing is working....I never want to see another chilli ever again :( I'm in chilli hell

my gorlfriend cut chillis and was in payne but then we flound thirs websirte and relief cut like a knief true our nite, tank you and everything.

Today decided to do some chilli paste for family.I idiotically cut and deseeded a lethal combination of fresh chillies,chilli padis and dried chillies,all without gloves.Mum had nagged at me several times to wear gloves,but I overrated myself and ignored her words.After deseeding the last of the dried chillies,I happily washed my hands with soap and water.Burning pain crept into my hands after contact with water.The pain soon intensified and became so numbingly burning and unbearable.I almost thought my hands' nerves were damaged!
I doused my hands in milk but it's only temporary relief.After removing my hands from the running tapwater,my hands felt worse!In desparation,I googled and found this blog.Luckily I got some lemons and olive oil on hands.The lemon and olive oil mixture sort of lessened my pain,but when i removed my hands,they started burning like hell again.I tried to rub salt on my hands,but relief was again temporary.As a last resort,I dunked my hands into milk but the pain was worse after that!
By now im all tired and jumping from pain.I decided to just shake my hands and fanning my hands to forget the pain,but the increased activities caused my hands to burn!I was already giving up and trying to go to sleep with the pain when Mum stepped in.She offered to apply a Chinese medication from China.I was initially skeptical but relented and a miracle happened!My burning pain started to subside almost immediately and now my hands are back to normal!
Guess the lemon and milk do work for milder chilli burn,but for serious burn,guess you just have to try all methods.One lesson learnt today is to listen to Mum's advice sometimes.All the agony would not have started if I had worn gloves!Now im back to pounding my chillies to make chilli paste!

Thanks for all the tips. I've been cutting up super strong chillies and ignored the warnings.

None of the remedies were a cure. They did take an edge off the pain. I have found, whilst testing to see how much of a burn my fingers had, that saliva actually takes away the burn.

Of course this means that you end up with the burn in the mouth but this I can handle. The backs of my hand were burning like hell. I've licked them for a few minutes each and the pain is totally gone. I did get a burn on my tongue but milk and yoghurt relieved that.

Likewise my fingers. A few mins in the mouth each and the pain is all but gone. The only part that still hurts is under a few fingernails and a little cut on my thumb.

If all else fails, give it a go.

Thanks so much for the help! The olive oil didn't work, but hey, the lemon juice worked like a an instant charm! Thanks thanks thanks! ;D

Thank you for the infomation . the lemon juice and the vienger it help

hey thanks yaar ur formula worked of applying mayonnaise n olive oil.after cleaning half a kilo chiiili i suffered for 5 to 6 hours coz of burning did many things to get rid of applied salt,lamon rinsed my hands in cold milk but did not work n atlast after applying olive oil n mayonnaise i got relief.....haaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Two lemon juice icecubes later and my nose/ upper lip is better. Great tip... Thank goodness I juiced & froze those lemons!
Yoghurt, alcohol, fat/ oil, salt as suggested on other sites didn't work for me.

Chopped up chillis around 6pm last night; the finger burn started at about 8pm and went on for about 7hrs! Tried almost everything listed here; ice water, iced milk, toothpaste (for the bicarbonate of soda), lemon juice, lime juice, salt, alcohol, hot water... the list goes on! Sadly, nothing worked, but perhaps if I'd have tried some of these sooner, one would have relieved the pain! Finally had a friend bring me some anti-histimines and they, along with paracetamol, dulled the pain. Ive read the pain is to do with blockage of nerves, ie all in the mind, so to anyone suffering, take painkillers and just soak your hands in cool water/milk (but not so cold to give you an ice burn!) until the pain is manageable. Oh and never ever chop chillis without gloves again!

Thanks for all the tips. I tried almost everything-- applying toothpaste, vinegar, alcohol rub, honey, washing with salt, washing with soap, soaking in water, soaking in iced milk and finally applying olive oil and lemon juice. I was still feeling some burning sensation a while ago but the area was much more smaller and the pain bearable. Now as I'm typing these line, the burning has completely gone. Guess all these things work but you just need to keep repeating until capsaicin is slowly being removed. So, be patient and keep trying if it seems does not work at first...

And what's the learning? Use gloves!

Aww my hands hurt so bad. I cut up some chilli, tried everything bit less pain now but nothing was full relief.. Salt worked the best I think

Use hand sanitizer alcohol basd.4 instant relief.

I just got chillie in my eye, the milk really does work, thank you x

Hi, thanks for advising me - I just couldn't do a thing after cutting several of chillis my hands were so sore and the bloody juice have burnt the skin between my fingers! I wasn't able to do a thing with my hands and I guess I made it even worse by washing them thoroughly with soap (soap=alkaline).

I peeled and removed seeds from about a 1/2 pound of hatch green chili from NM this evening - with bare hands - OUCH! I tried salt, bleach (not recommended), rubbing alcohol, straight lime juice, all to no avail. My hands were on fire!! Not having olive oil I used peanut oil mixed with lime juice - RELIEF! My hands feel completely fine now - It took about 20 min. Thank you!

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Have just got back from doing a cooking show where I deseeded a chilli with bare hands. Not the best idea! Didn't have a lemon so used a lime. Sweet relief at last.

Ladies. FYI.

Tampons and Chillies don't mix.

Chaps would suggest no hands down trousers after chopping too.

Seriously traumatic.

Thanks for the remedies!!!

Found this after an unpleasant scotch bonnet burn. I know better, but rubbed the side of my nose. This work beautifully.


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