The Goggles Do Nothing
May 25, 2008 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Save me from the pain of chilli-in-the-eye.

Last night when I was cooking I was foolish and rubbed my eye, after chopping chillies, but before scrubbing my hands.
The pain went away only after a good half an hour's rinsing my face with cold water. Is there a better, or recommended, way to make the pain stop?
I am generally fairly good with chilli-discipline, and am not interested in hearing about the preventative measures I already use: I know that sooner or later I'll inevitably defeat any possible security measure and poke myself in the face again. I'd like to be prepared to face that eventuality.
posted by Fiasco da Gama to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am not your doctor. I am not even a doctor. I am not remotely qualified to give medical advice. Anything that I say should not be interpreted as advice. Nor should it be acted upon. Anything that I say, if interpreted as advice and acted upon, might very well result in your eye falling out.

I would dampen a soft cloth with milk, and gently dab my eye with it.
posted by Flunkie at 6:59 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, you could go to a doctor.
posted by b33j at 7:06 PM on May 25, 2008

From the Wikipedia entry on capsicum spray:

Though there is no way of completely neutralizing pepper spray, its effect can be minimized or stopped. Capsaicin is not soluble in water, and even large volumes of water will not wash it off. Victims should be encouraged to blink vigorously in order to encourage tears, which will help flush the irritant from the eyes. The spray can be washed off the face using soap, shampoo, dish washing detergent, or other detergents. Any cooling like ice, cold water, cold surface, or a fan will provide some relief. Milk has been shown to provide some relief and is frequently recommended for treatment of natural capsaicin exposure (chile peppers, hot sauces, spices). To avoid rubbing the spray into the skin, thereby prolonging the burning sensation, and in order to not spread the compound to other parts of the body, victims should try to avoid touching affected areas. Application of oils, or oil containing creams can trap the capsaicin to the skin and result in more severe chemical burns and blistering.

North American street medics use a non-toxic eyedrop solution of 1:1 water and aluminum hydroxide (Maalox) which helps neutralize pepper spray and relieve symptoms.[citation needed]

You could try filling a shotglass or bottle of the right neck size with milk, forcing your eye open, putting the shotglass to your eye, and tipping your head back. I have a minor cat allergy, and if I'm silly enough to pat the cat and rub my eye, I've found that process (and antihistamine, which might help as well) helps get rid of the irritation.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:06 PM on May 25, 2008

Just in case you miss it, at the bottom of the linked page about chilli in the eye it says: For all eye exposures rinse the eye with water for 15 minutes and then seek urgent medical assistance.
posted by b33j at 7:07 PM on May 25, 2008

All the caveats, but I'm agreeing that milk or Maalox followed by a water flush is probably the way to go.

Anyone who enjoys cooking with hot chilis and has taken a wizz without washing their hands can feel your pain. Only, in a different place.
posted by unSane at 7:26 PM on May 25, 2008

Milk is a lipid and thus conteracts the effect that chilli has on nerves. Milk rinse/water normally works for me.
posted by cholly at 7:44 PM on May 25, 2008

I had an unfortunate incident earlier this week involving a habanero seed and the inside of my nose. The milk suggestion really does work. In my case, I slathered some sour cream on the effected area (lovely mental image, I know), and it seemed to do the trick, although I had to re-apply it a couple of times over the course of an hour or so.
posted by arianell at 7:45 PM on May 25, 2008

You can buy an eye wash too keep in your bathroom if this ever happens again. I'm sure glad my neighbor had one when the same thing happened to me when I was a kid.
posted by pwb503 at 8:04 PM on May 25, 2008

Milk is probably the best thing to use at short notice. I forget how it works but I think it has something to do with proteins clashing with the acids or some scientific mumbo-jumbo of the sort. I know milk is great for when you think I AM MAN ENOUGH TO EAT THIS THING and then five seconds later discover that you can see THE SPACE BETWEEN SPACES and find yourself blubbering on the floor in a fetal position, whimpering for your dear mother through numb, bleeding lips.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:46 PM on May 25, 2008 [5 favorites]

Apparently capsicum is also soluble in vinegar. When I accidentally rubbed my eyes after chopping a whole lot of Thai Bird's Eye chilies a few weeks ago I decided the best thing would be for me to pour a cup or two of vinegar into my eyes. The subsequent pain made me fall over. But it did make my eyes feel a little better! I don't think I'd recommend it though...

My friend who grew up in Thailand tells me that you could also dip your fingers in oil before chopping, which you would naturally wash off before you touched your eyes.
posted by pantagrool at 8:55 PM on May 25, 2008

My husband got jalepeno juice in his eye, we used milk to rise and he reports that it helped immediately.

So, nth-ing milk.
posted by Theresa at 4:39 AM on May 26, 2008

I once did the same thing, and I basically had to stand with my eyes open under the shower head for half an hour till the pain went away. I was fine after that. But the milk suggestions are good. If I had known that I might have saved myself some time.

My advice for future endeavors cutting chilies is to go buy yourself a box of latex gloves (you can get them at medical supply stores and even at Costco, and always wear gloves while handling hot chilies.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:08 AM on May 26, 2008

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