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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.


We shall test this then. Jim get the bonnets, Joseph is volunteering.

I just found another great remedy. It doesn't cure it, but it works s much better than ice (Chilli burns on my lips and nose, don't ask).
Mix lime or lemon juice with a little bit of water and hold it over the burn. you can feel the difference straight away. apparently the reason it works is because the citric acid cuts thru the chilli oil.

After desperately seeking a remedy from my burning hands, I came across your ideas for relief. I was in intense pain after de-seeding tons of hot new mexico chili pods. I tried the olive oil first but still had a burning sensation so I then rubbed lemon juice all over my hands and I would have to say I started to feel some relief, just a slight burning but no where near what I was feeling before! Thanks for the tips.

I'm very sensitive to chili, cut up some non-hot peppers tonight and got the burning hands in return. So happy to find this web entry. I tried the oil, didn't give releif, added the lemon juice on top and hey presto - sweet relief, still burning a bit, but feeling so much better. I'm one happy lady!! Thanks folks!

Wow, what a difference, Olive oil then Lemon Juice actually stopped my tears flowing and gave me back the use of my hands! I had no idea chilli's could inflict this much pain!

I was taking out the seeds of my chillies today for the sake of my girlfriend (She doesn't like the food to spicy). And later I felt like I had burned myself on my fingers, and I took a while before I connected the two. But lemon juice helped me.

My partner was suffering acute chilli pain in her hands after cutting chillies (no gloves! well hindsight is 20-20).

Your lemon juice remedy was a great success.

Appreciate the advice


The last comment about gloves is not the preventative the commenter might think. My wife is suffering even though she wore surgical rubber glovers. So the lemon juice is getting a try.

After receiving a chili burn from touching my cheeks, I was in agony. Washed my face, no help. Poured a bit of buttermilk from the refrigerator onto the wet cloth and touched my burn-- instant relief. Wow! Wonderful.

Thanks for the great tip. I'm always too lazy to look for my gloves.

Wife cooked 'Serrano' chili's, since it was late & we didnt have Lemons she was desperate so we used fresh Grapefruit. It didnt eliminate all the burning but toned down the burn to a very mild tolerable tingle.

hey thanks for the tip.. i didn't want to cut a pefectly good lemon, so I used vinegar, which is as acidic as lemon, and it worked!... even got rid of the strong mutton smell my fingers had, although now i have a faint vinegary smell.. i guess that could be washed off with some other soap.. :) Thanks!

tryed the top cures folks hands still on fire i left the burn to long i think im in agony

Great tip our daughter was in pain so we applied the Oil, then the lemon juice, she is much better
Thank you.

thanks a million, i really didn't know what i was going to do, milk didn't work and neither did baking soda (i was desperate..) so thank you!

I had really awful chilli burn, did a google search for a cure and tried rubbing salt into my hands initially, it didn't work, then I tried olive oil, that didn't work either. Eventually I tried the lemon juice, I'm afriad this didn't work either for me, maybe I had left the chilli on my hands too long?? Anyway, this all happened about 2 hours ago and the pain seems to be wearing off of it's own accord now :)
Great tips though! They seem to work for most!

Forgot to oil my hands before cutting an old and evil chili...and paid the price for it! Thanks for the acid/alkali tip, my boyfriend googled this site and then doused my mitts with vinegar (no lemons left). Instant sweet relief. Still a bit tingly but so much better. THANKS!

I was helping my mom in the kitchen cutting up chillies and later, I got Jalapeno hands. Tried all kinds of tricks - ice, lemon juice, lotion, but none worked. Later, grandma told me to rub some salt and leave it for five minutes before rinsing off. It worked like magic.

Tried everything from ice to toothpaste to deodrant. For one hour it was pure agony. Then I google searched and came upon this site....this remedy works like magic. Thanks a ton!!!

Having grown up in New Mexico with a green chile stand, I did a lot of peeling as a kid, and my mom always had us use oil on our hands first, but if we somehow got the chile on our face or arms, etc, she would neutralize the burns with alcohol. Rubbing alcohol works like a charm!

okay soooo I was picking out seeds from the chilli peppers... and after 2 hours my hands started to burn sooo much!!! I tried everything like Milk... rinsed my hands with water for 10 minutes, used lemon juice, tried Gold bond and its still burning. Vinegar helped for a little bit but im still not getting any sort of relief?? Ill try salt this is my last resourse im scare :S

"The best treatment is to wash the area with soap and water and then put a large amount of vegetable oil on the area for at least an hour. If the burn sensation is on your hands, dip your hands in vegetable oil for the hour."

I have tried all the above but none worked. I left it too late!! Tried the vegtable oil for ten minutes and it works! Hand feels alot better!!

Thank you so much for your blog entry! My sister has been complaining of buring fingers all evening after preparing us a delicious ceviche. Desperate to relieve myself of her whining bi-hourly runs to the kitchen for salves & ointments (which included yogurt, milk, bread and aloe), I turned to the internet. Unfortunately, we had used all the limes and lemons in the house for salsa and the ceviche. So, we looked for alternatives with acid. Lo and behold, we found the main ingredient in Crystal Light diet drink is citric acid. I mixed up a concentrated batch and it worked wonderfully! Thanks or the information!

used the loo a moment ago, never had a problem with chillies after a few hours, but to night I have. In desperation I looked on the web, and thanks to the lemon juice my bits are now not burning? I did try to remove contact lenses a few months ago after using chillies not to be recomemded (bad eye night) but we live and learn.

wow,chillie burn is bad!!!!!
i found rubbing my affected area(my face) with salt and a little water,helped get the chillie off and milk soothed it,lemon worked for a bit but after using the salt it stung a bit.

Tried almost everything here except lemon. Finally put some oral anesthetic and that worked a little.

You've saved my life!!!!!!!! After the most unbelievably terrible day, I made a recipe requiring chili peppers and seeded them without gloves! The LEMON JUICE has given me such relief...ahhh, thankyou, I thought I'd never fall asleep.

the Lemon juice was amazing,also got
some relief from rubbing ice on the area particularly the face.
you saved my nasal passage..

worked like magic! not an instant relief for me (had the chillis in my hands for quite a long time), but nothing compared to the 3-hour in pain! came online and found ur entry, went straight to the canteen and asked for some lemon, feel soooo much better!!! thanks alott!!!!

Thankyou sooo much my hands were burning for hours before i had the sense to look on the net!!

Thanks, i'll try "oiling up" next time - the worst has been, no matter what soaps or soaking, the oils get on my contact lenses when i take them out - and the next day, its like putting chilli-oil-contact lenses in my eyes for a painful burning eye-ball experience.

After cooking dinner for my boyfriend, I decided to wash my makeup off. BAD IDEA. My whole eye area started to burn and I started getting blisters. It was pure agony for a hour until it wore off. I just read this site and poured some vinegar on my hands. It worked INSTANTLY! I wish I had done it sooner

wow...when i was cooking and not thinking...i was cutting a pretty orange pepper and then i touched my upper lip and nose....thanks to this web site i got help.....i am very swollen and my face is red and cleared my sinsus....and i missed my movie date tonight ...

after rubbing my eye with my chili hands it turned into a disaster! i rinsed it with water and then happening upon this blog, i decided olive oil would do the trick, lemon juice in the eyeball didn't seem like a good idea!

how wrong I was!! I was screaming, "get it out!!" before happening upon the milk suggestion after rinsing my eye area again.

brilliant!! I may have a milk soaked make up remover pad attached to my eye but at least I'm not screaming anymore!

thank you so much!!

After cutting one little home grown red chilli I scratched my nose and burning hell boke loose on my face! After searching the web i saw your advice and tried applying some olive oil to the burning bits with a tissue. This didn't really help.

I read on and spied the citric acid remedy. Not having any lemons I tried rubbing around the afftected area with an orange segment. 20 mins later all is back to normal (but I have very red eyes).


Was in absolute agony on my nose, had to settle for using clementine juices (no lemons in the house) - you've saved me from a great of pain! Thank you!

im a fool and i touched my eyes with chilli hands... lemon juice = genius...


Same story-- seeded a Serrano chili with my bare hands (never heard of chili burn before this). I tried soaking my fingers in milk, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, vodka from the freezer and lime juice (didn't work, so I drank it), baking soda, scrubbed with dawn soap, salt, honey, olive oil (really didn't work), water with bleach in it, and finally, in a last stroke of desperation, toothpaste. Of all these, the below-freezing vodka felt the best, but NOTHING made the burning go away. I spent the next six hours juggling an ice pack between my hands until 2 in the morning when the pain finally subsided enough to sleep.

But, to all sufferers, I highly recommend the vodka with lime juice. Even if it doesn't stop the burning, drinking it down will make you feel much better about the whole thing.

the vinegar worked like a treat!!! How come no-one including everyone in our house, know that Chillis burn your fingers!!!! Maybe we need an international Chilli burns your hands day to raise awareness.

Thanks for the tip, it stop my lips from that burning feeling and porbably swelling.

I de-seeded about a dozen chilli's today, a mixture of jalapeno, habanero and birds eye. I must have touched my lips because I began getting a burning sensation there that just kept getting worse and worse. Ice gave some relief but, taking the ice off though was just about unbearable.

I did a Google search and found this blog, after squeezing lemon juice on I found no relief. Olive oil was next and the same. I thought I would persist though, and mixed some olive oil (1 part) and lemon juice (2 parts) together, then poured this onto the towel containing ice which I was using.

Whilst there was no immediate relief, after about 20 minutes of holding it there the burning sensation was almost completely gone. Taking the towel off, 10 minutes later and I couldn't tell there was any pain.

It appears like the lemon juice does work, but you may need to persist with it. Thanks a heap to this blog owner who has saved me a great deal of pain!

I work cool with Chilli a lot, but today I de-seeded a couple (with my nails!) for a meal I was making to spare my daughter the burn. Well did I burn instead. I spent a good hour washing with soap and water and being miserable till I found this blog. I tried the oil, which gave instant relief but just for a while. Tried lemon juice and vinegar with the same results. Finally spent an hour with my hands in an olive oil and lemon juice mixture that finally did it! Thanks very much for all the advise here. I'll be more careful next time!

Ditto gratefulness of wisdom into relief of chilli burn. I should warn however, anyone afflicted with badly chapped winter hands as myself, that lemon juice on a thousand cuts takes you to a whole new level of suffering...aaaahhhhh!


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