My hands are still burning 24 hours later
October 7, 2019 6:13 PM   Subscribe

I’m an idiot and cut up about a pound of assorted hot peppers last night. My fingertips are still burning. What do I do?

Tried rinsing with vinegar, vodka, olive oil, dish soap. I took some advil and also tried burn gel and cortisone cream. It’s still burning. Holding a cold can of soda now but it’s not really helping. What else can I do?
posted by elvissa to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Dairy is the traditional remedy. Try milk or yogurt?
posted by Weeping_angel at 6:16 PM on October 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

Try a baking soda water paste. Let it dry on your hands as much as possible before rinsing. You might need to repeat a couple of times.
posted by August Fury at 6:29 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Rubbing alcohol
posted by uans at 6:29 PM on October 7, 2019

I did the same thing about 30 years ago. The poison control hotline said to wash with alcohol, which I didn't have, so I soaked my hands in vodka all night. Iirc, my hands were better, but not entirely healed, by morning.

Given what you've already tried, you may simply need time.
posted by she's not there at 6:32 PM on October 7, 2019

Just your fingertips? Make sure your fingernails are trimmed and, if possible, scrub under them with a brush and the dish soap. It's probably something under your nails.
posted by mikeh at 6:38 PM on October 7, 2019

Capsaicin is supposedly soluble in alcohol, so yeah rubbing alcohol might work.

I've seen maalox (the liquid antacid not the confusingly co-branded anti-diarrhea stuff) recommended in the past as a topical treatment for pepper pray exposure. I'm not sure Maalox is sold in the US anymore, but there should be generic liquid antacids that contain the same mix of aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide, and simethicone.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:39 PM on October 7, 2019

I know it’s not done in AskMe, but trimming your fingernails and scrubbing under them will make this so dramatically worse that I can’t ignore it in good conscience. Do not abrade your skin in any way. Further stop with the alcohol ASAP as it will dry out your skin and create tiny cuts for the capsaicin to get in.

Lotion and maalox and time. Triple antibiotic ointment or vaseline can help, as well as pure castile soap (unscented!). Anything that you would normally do to soothe angry skin is the best.
posted by stoneweaver at 6:54 PM on October 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

Note: only maalox if you can find a non peppermint variety!!
posted by stoneweaver at 6:56 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone! I tried the closest thing to milk I have in house (sour cream), and that calmed it down a little. I usually have baking soda but am unfortunately all out at the moment.

Have not cut my nails (they are the perfect length for back scratching and would like to keep them).

If the situation persists I will try maalox in the morning.

Will keep you posted on how it goes in case anyone is as dumb as me in my he future
posted by elvissa at 7:05 PM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Lacking maalox, I used acetone nail polish remover once and it worked, however, I only had the burning on some of the fingers of one hand, so I wasn't so concerned about the skin dryness issue.
posted by yasaman at 7:19 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

This also happened to me today! (Chili season!!) I tried most of the above and nothing helped besides giving temporary relief. I ended up taking some Advil and rubbing hand lotion on the burning spots until it calmed down. I took a shower a few hours after that and it really riled up the burning again for a bit but I slapped on some more lotion and it’s been fine since. Learned my lesson about wearing gloves, that’s for sure!
posted by caitcadieux at 8:28 PM on October 7, 2019

I did this last week with habaneros and while the idea of dabbing rubbing alcohol on burning skin seems very counter-intuitive, it was the only thing that helped. It cools the skin and cuts the oils.

Every few hours after using it they were all of a sudden burning again until I realized that some of the oils had gotten onto my gaming controller, and my hands were burning in exactly all of the places my hands came in contact with it so I wiped that down with the rubbing alcohol too.
posted by the webmistress at 8:33 PM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've also heard rub olive oil all over where skin interacted the pepper oil then wash off but I think that's more immediately after the fact, not many hours later. Same happened to me last week, it took about 48 hrs to dissipate with no extra anything so if all else fails just time. Sorry you're going through this!
posted by danapiper at 9:10 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

and don't touch your eyes
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:13 PM on October 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Keep in mind that you are now forevermore vulnerable to the Capsaicin reaction you are suffering, totally losing your previous immunity. Rubber gloves for dealing with peppers from now on.
posted by Chitownfats at 1:36 AM on October 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Your eyes or your... other parts. Careful now.
posted by zadcat at 7:20 AM on October 8, 2019

Keep in mind that you are now forevermore vulnerable to the Capsaicin reaction you are suffering, totally losing your previous immunity. Rubber gloves for dealing with peppers from now on.

Wait, what? Immunity? To capsaicin?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:22 AM on October 8, 2019 [6 favorites]

Oh goodness yes, be careful with your more sensitive bits, and check around for things you touched that might be re-applying the oil to your fingers. I used a rag with dish soap on everything I could think of that my chef partner might have touched when he came home from work and hadn't washed his hands quite well enough. He was grounded from MY sensitive bits for quite a while after THAT stupidity!
posted by stormyteal at 4:02 PM on October 8, 2019

Since you've tried everything, maybe fresh aloe? I've been raised to believe aloe is a miracle skin soother, so if you can get your hands on some (yes, intended), it's worth a shot.
posted by Everydayville at 6:07 PM on October 8, 2019

Wait, what? Immunity? To capsaicin?

Well, all I can say is that my wife blithely cut hot peppers for years on the countertop until

We bathed her burning fingers in ice water, yogurt, ice cream for about the next 6 hours.
posted by Chitownfats at 6:40 PM on October 8, 2019

For future searchers, oil-based makeup removers (I use Clinique's Take The Day Off Balm, but I'm sure there are other and cheaper alternatives) is my secret weapon for this. It's made to emulsify oils on your face and help them rinse away, and I use it for makeup removal regularly. Once in hand burning desperation, I remembered that capsaicin is oily, so used it on chili fingers, and damn, if it didn't help.

Massage it in to your fingers, really get it into the cuticles and under the nails. Rinse, repeat, follow up with a dish soap hand wash. The sooner after touching the peppers the better.
posted by mostlymartha at 9:17 PM on October 8, 2019

Has anyone tried technu for this? It is a mix of liquids designed to lift and remove poison oak and urishiol from skin. According to Wikipedia it was designed for removing radioactive fallout. I’ve used it for other irritating oils, but never hot pepper.
posted by unknown knowns at 10:11 PM on October 8, 2019

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