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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.


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!

i have been suffering for nearly 7 hours.. and finally got relief from citric acid in a powder form (mix it with a little water) as i didnt have lemons at home.. INSTANT RELIEF.. thank you so much!

trying to help out in the kitchen as mum's not well - turned out it was probably easier for her to do the dinner herself! chili burn all over my face and up nose! nobody understood the pain!!!!
tried soaking my face in a big bowl of milk.. looked like an idiot, sort of helped! THE SALT SUGGESTION IS BRILLIANT!

Hi there, after googling chilli burn relief - came across your bog - thanks so much for the tip! It really works that lemon juice! It's instantaneous!!

oh my god, my husband just cooked and used chillies, so we get all loved up later on and hey presto we r both on fire. big time. took a while to cool down but lemon juice really did help thanks

after cooking dinner with birds eye chilli and washing hands with washing up liquid at leat 5 times going to the bathroom was a really painful experience (for about an hour) until i found these hints. thanks to you i wont have that experience again. THANKYOU

What a great site !

Had never heard of chilli burn until today, washed hands loads of times during and after cooking. Fingers only started to burn quite a few hours after.. weird!

Milk didn't work for me, salt no, lemon juice a bit, but then burns more when you stop, will try oil and lemon together and leave it on for longer...

why doesnt the whole world know of these cures, i can feel my fingers coming back to normal, i used olive oil which gave relief and now lemon juice topped it, thank you internet you are my medical friend.

I type this with olive oil dripping from my hands. Starting cooking dinner, cut one of our home grown chillies to add to dinner (that looked just like a little red pepper), saw black seeds which seemed odd so I removed them. All was well until I blew my nose and unleashed a burning to my nose which sent me to the basin to wash my face with water, NOT A BRIGHT IDEA! so with face and lips burning like hundreds of hot pins stabbing my face I sent my husband to google. Lemon juice concentrated in a bottle worked in about 15 minutes. Then I doused my hands in olive oil OMG the relief!! I look like a blotched freak but I can now breath without coughing chilli fire. Thanks for the tip!
Vanessa New Zealand


I started to chop up a home grown Thai Chiili and as an intitial taste test by chewing on tip led me to believe it was without heat:) i began to scoop the seeds out with my finger and then had a nibble. (Prize of the day for dumb blonde!!). Wow I thought I had to go to the hospital,.. ended up waling around with a bag of frozen corn hanging out my mouth. In desperation I decided to Google and found this blog!!! Olive oil to remove and then I just kept pouring on some lemon juice concentrate I had in fridge and it began to settle after a few minutes and within half an hour I only have puffy lips. No need for collagen treatment!:-) Thanks again

We tried everything we had available, washing with soap, washing up liquid, olive oil, salt, bleach, unfortunately we had to lemon or finger, but my chance she tried washing her hands with johnson's baby oil and VOLA ! pain reduced greatly.

My dad sent me home today with a recipe for a chilli con carne and 2 green chillies, he didnt mention wearing gloves etc (being the keen chef he is you would have thought he would have), anyway a good 6 hours later I got in the bath and this awful burning sensation started, I have very sensitive skin so I just thought it might have been something I used.. anyway I googled burning sensation on the fingers and lo and behold answers came back about green chillies and it clicked lol..
I poured milk over my hands first then squeezed half a lemon on my hands and left it a couple of minutes.. instant relief, although I'd warn people with sensitive skin to go careful with the lemon, it does sting a little lol!
Thank you

Decided to impress family tonight and cook Mexican food. It was 4.30pm, cut up 4 apparently mild cayenne green chilis, used hands, to de-seed. Started to tingle a tad. Have cold, so put hands to nose and rubbed. PAIN!! Husband is doctor...told me to put them under water, no help, washed hands 50 times, no help, rang burnd unit..more help, rang chemist, even more 8pm. Googled here, tried oil, some relief but bit too late, done baking soda, milk, all three in one bowl, salt...holy crap..look out with that one on open wound! Moving on neat lemon juice, bloody vinegar, alcohol swaps, panadene...still burning. My skin is so sensitive. How long does this continue, its now almost 10pm.

In hindsight, wished I never bought the dam things. But if you do, oil first to bind the nasty little ingredient so it stops binding to you nerve receptors, then wash off with soapy water, next vinegar and lemon juice, throw down some strong pain killers while you're at it, few shots of gin, wash area with rubbing alcohol (eg alcohol swabs), ice packs and keep going back for vinegar/lemon juice soak. Open cuts will get use to it! Will email back when returns to normal. Hang in there all sensitive skined people!!


Ok, 10.30pm, lignocaine 3% no much help, tried salt...actually helped a bit, more oil, soapy water, back to vinegar and lemon soak and ice pack, more tingling than burning now. Try that my sensitive skinned friends.

Just to let you all know, the salt really helped and went to bed with an ice pack and heavy duty pain killers. Burning went sometime around 1am, about 8 1/2 hours later. Woke up an upon putting my fingers in my mouth to check for any more signs of the capsaicin on me, felt my tongue burn a bit after a few seconds. So repeated oil and salt and washed off with cool soapy water. I have such sensitive skin and this morning they are still very tender. Blistered around nails where I touchd the chilli membrane and seeds. Thanks so much for your blogs, you guys saved me! The burns unit hear, a nurse hot line and chemist had no idea. Ring a poison information centre if you can, they were the only ones with the correct initial advice. The capsaicin in the chilli is NOT water soluble and it BINDS to nerve RECEPTORS in your skin, membranes. So you need to bind it up with either OIL, FULL CREAM MILK or RUBBING ALCOHOL. Then wash your skin off with cool soapy water to remove any extra bits. You can't get it off with just water and soap. SALT helps to neutralize it as does LEMON JUICE, VINEGAR. Best of luck to any one who comes along next. Follow these guide lines and stay calm. If it gets in your eyes, nasal passages, groin, try oil or full cream milk to bind it and then rinse away with salty water. Repeat an if it persists, gets worse, ring a poison information centre, then a hospital.

So much better! thank you 4 the tip! Touched my nose after chopping chili! in desperation i jumped on the net looking 4 a remedy and the lemon juicen really worked Ta

I'm so glad I found this ! I should of known better, but I chopped a hot chilli with bare hands, a little while after the burning started, and about a minute after that I realised what I had done, the oil, milk and lemon juice are on my kitchen bench and I'm having to soak my fingers over and over to get a little relief, but it is working, thanks for this blog and all the replies that made me feel not so stupid as I'm not the only fool to do this !
Eden Moss
New Zealand

oh wow, I'd never thought to have used oil! Thanks :)
Now I just wish I'd googled this this last night when I was cooking with hands are still burning so I might make a trip to the shops when I can get out of work.

Hi, I'm another unfortunate idiot who didn't wear gloves and had no idea this could happen.
Thanks for the suggestions, if only I'd known about this sooner.

I've tried vegitable oil and lemon juice (out of one of those plastic squeezy bottles)... smeared on a lump of (real) butter.
Which gave relief for a while, but the burning is back. :(

All I can say is thank God I didn't rub my eyes or worse.
At the moment I've got a big bowl of ice-cold, full-fat milk to soak my hands in, which seems to be doing the trick.

PS: Arrrgh, typing certainly doesn't help.

i was just cutting same chilli and sneezed and put my hands over my nose and mouth, then started to get a very serious burn over face... and tried water, ice , soap they didn't work at all... i then tried milk, didn't help alot,

I then paniced... and found this web page... I am now rubbing a lemon all over my lips and nose.. it starting to relief the pain... slowly. Thanks!

Thanks. My balls are still burning - my girl grabbed them after cutting chillies. Its helped.

thanks so much for the chilli tip - I love cooking with fresh chilli, and have been plagued with the stinging afterwards! both the lemon juice and the olive oil worked a treat! Cheers!

thanks for the great tip...olive oil is such a great relief and it does make your hands super soft!

Hi, glad my blog helped so many. So for the next poor soul who comes here READ THIS...
The capsaicin in the chilli is NOT water soluble and it BINDS to nerve RECEPTORS in your skin and membranes.
STEP 1: You need to bind it up with either OIL, FULL CREAM MILK or RUBBING ALCOHOL. Then wash your skin with cool soapy water to remove any extra bits of left over capsaicin. You can't get it off with just water and soap. You must bind it first to OIL, FULL CREAM MILK OR RUBBING ALCOHOL.

STEP 2: Next, neutralising it once extra capsaicin washed off.

SALT helps to neutralize it as does LEMON JUICE, and or VINEGAR.

STEP 3 : Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

STEP 4: Make up a thick paste of bi-carb soda (baking soda) and cover eg, hands in it, cheeks, nose. Leave on over night. Wash off in morning.

Best of luck to any one who comes along next. Follow these guide lines and stay calm. If it gets in your eyes, nasal passages, groin, try oil or full cream milk to bind it and then rinse away with salty water. Repeat an if it persists, gets worse, ring a poison information centre, then a hospital.

ok well my dad made me cook today, so i decided to make a pasta bake with chillies, i don t know what chillies they were but they were very small and red from thailand, so i couldnt find the gloves, cut them . i didnt have any pain for a while apart from on my lips where i touched it, but this only lasted 20 minutes. after we ate the food i started to get alot more burnign sensation on my hands. so at first i just soaked it in water for a long time, washed it alot to stop the pain.. and i decided to come on the net.. first tried oil.. didnt work.. then tried lemon dint work
then i mixed lime lemon vineger olive oil sunflower oil and salt in a bowl.. nothing releived the pain.. if anything made it worse..
so i used surgical spirit on my hands numbed the pain while it was on.. after 30 seconds it was all back.. now my hands are on fire and ive decided just to go asleep as im in so much agony and nothing will releive it hopefully it will be gone in the morning.. if i can even get to sleep

*types carefully*
Thank you very much, three cheers for internet helpfuls, you saved my finger tips!
Im going back to my oil and lemon compress, cheers!

I was making guacamole for a shindig tonight and threw in a chili pepper and some tabasco and such. I had washed my hands, cleaned up the kitchen and then half an hour later my nose erupted in spicy-burning-ness! Thank you for your remedy with lemon juice--INSTANT relief.


Same happened to me. Only correlated it with handling/chopping up
chillies the next day - lots of pain under the fingernails. Just got a soft
toothbrush and some soft liquid soap, and softly scrubbed with soap and a tiny bit of water, then rinsed with warm water. Instant relief. I think the agitating action of the brush, hot water, and soap worked to remove the chili oil well.


We had a incident recently where we got Serrano pepper oil on the eye and had it spread into the face after attempting to wash the eye out with water which intensified the burn. But after remembering something from TV where they were able to slow the burn down by using Milk to remove the oils and burning sensation afterwards using cucumber to soothe the skin from the burn. Hope this helps somebody in the future.

I knew about chili burn, but that's for sensitive skin people, Chilies Smilies. Thirty minutes after peeling, deseeding, and chopping 2 lbs of roasted hot green hatch chilies, my fingers were all shiny and burning more and more. Aghh! Tried in order: olive oil, lemon juice, milk, vinager, salt, rubbing alcohol. After all that the burn was maybe down to 90% with no real effect. Tried olive oil again and it went down to 20% right after that. The next time with olive oil it was back to normal. Rubbed olive oil on my fingers for a few minutes then washed them, repeat after like 20 min. Ate my death chili and mmm mmm good but bloody hot.

I am a student in a culinary school, and had to go through a WHOLE tray of stupid chili peppers... this remedy helped.

I tried olive oil. I tried lemon juice. However, the only thing that worked was yogurt. However, you have to leave it on for 5 minutes and perhaps repeat it 1-2 times after for the yogurt to take.

If I had known about how painful cutting up chilis was for my hands I would of had my husband cut them! Just kidding! Honestly , There should be a warning on the packages and or plants on how handleing chilis for cooking could burn the skin. I did try the lemon juice (concentrated) after using bactine, there was some relief.

When all else fails, if available, you can try Pepto Bismal. Since this relieves upset stomach by neutralizing the acids, this will give immediate relief.

I don't think Pepto Bismal will work, as chilli is alkaline, not acidic

My 13 year old son who HAD to chop the onions and chillies for the spring rolls has been whining for hours about his burning fingers.

Oil was a non event but a lemon juice and vinegar cocktail help and we resorted to rubbing alcohol which has taken 90% of the burn away. Not sure of what part worked, but to all the contributors he says thanks.

Thanks folks!

As my dad used to say - did it hurt? Never felt a thing!

thank you all so much for the great advice im doing a science fair project for my school. and my topic is what takes the heat out of chilli and this site has really helped me out like alot. so thanks so much!!!!!

I am currently suffering from my first case of chilli burn! I didn't even realise it fingers and fingernails are stinging, so I googled a remedy, and have tried the lemon juice, however it provided only a temporary relief..I think I need to try the other suggestions as well to find one that works for me! Thanks to everyone for their input!

I was in agony after chopping chillis. I tried using sudocrem cream but the stingin was unbearable. so i decided to look on net. Thank good ness i had a lemon in the house. it was instant relief.


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