Serranos: is this an allergy?
June 30, 2011 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Serrano peppers and (heat?) rash: sign of an allergy? Also, how do I stop the burning?

About an hour ago I was cutting up some serranos to put in soup. I accidentally touched my mouth, and then for a while my lips and face burned pretty badly, but time and sloppily drinking whole milk over the sink helped a lot.

Now though there are two red splotches to either side of my nose, and a big red mark on one side of my neck. They are not raised (like I've read hives are), but they all burn quite a bit. I put hydrocortisone on my neck which briefly soothed it but now seems to have made it worse.


1. Is this a sign of an allergy? I've cut serranos up several times without anything like this happening, and I've never had any issues eating them. I don't have any other food allergies. I'm thinking maybe my body's just overreacting to a regular capsaicin burn.

2. If it is an allergy, is it more likely an allergy to the capsaicin or to the serranos? In other words, will I have to avoid jalapeƱos and other peppers too?

3. Should I avoid the soup these are going into? I was really looking forward to it but I suppose avoiding a trip to the ER is more important.

4. How do I get the burning to STOP?
posted by randomname25 to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
No idea if it's an allergy, but in past ventures with hot peppers, I've found that treating the affected area with full-fat yogurt helps a lot. Something like Fage (the Greek yogurt) in its full-fat form is both delicious and stays put more readily than milk.
posted by rtha at 4:24 PM on June 30, 2011

This is probably just a really hot pepper. Has happened to me once or twice. You should really use gloves whenever cutting up peppers, just to be on the safe side (although I'd reccomend tasting a bit before cooking with them!).

To cure my last bout of this horrible burning, I: soaked the affected parts in milk, and then put on an oil, and then washed with Dawn and really (I mean REALLY) hot water, then more oily cream, and then an ice pack. Cleared it up like 80%. Shea butter or baby oil are often recommended for this sort of thing. (I used first olive oil, then shea butter as I have it on hand).
posted by shownomercy at 4:26 PM on June 30, 2011

You'll hear a lot of bogus remedies, but capsaicin is basically only soluble in fat. So, "wash" with some kind of grease or oil for a bit, then wash that off with normal soap and water. That should help the burning. So, full fat yogurt would work to some degree, but pure fat in some form would be better.
posted by gilrain at 4:28 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

As far as I know, chiles basically do that to anyone. You sound like you're particularly sensitive to it, so yeah, gloves, and make sure not to touch your face in the future. 2nding that you can rub bacon grease or lard on the burns, as smelly as that might be.
posted by Gilbert at 4:47 PM on June 30, 2011

I wouldn't worry that it's an allergy. I have a muscle relaxing rub that contains capsaicin, and sometimes it works like crazy (hot hot hot hot hot and red skin), and sometimes not at all. Seems impossible to regulate.
posted by queensissy at 5:00 PM on June 30, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all, the rash has gone away. And I'm gonna brave the soup :)
posted by randomname25 at 5:31 PM on June 30, 2011

Pretty much every time I use serrano peppers I end up touching some part of my face and making it burn. This may be one of those "bogus remedies," but I think it helps to put sugar on your lips if they're burning - at the worst, your lips taste nice and sweet for a while!
posted by one little who at 6:24 PM on June 30, 2011

Response by poster: Update: it was delicious.
posted by randomname25 at 9:57 PM on June 30, 2011

yeah, don't worry about that. Serranos are a gift from the food gods that must be enjoyed to the extreme :) but in doing so you will sometimes get rashes. It happens to me and I LOVE spice/heat/feeling-alive. Treat it as a war wound and go get some more peppers and eat them straight, that'll make you smile :)
posted by zombieApoc at 6:20 AM on July 1, 2011

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