How To Treat A Jalapeno Burn
Jalapenos (or jalapeños to use the correct stylization) provide a spicy deliciousness to a whole host of different recipes. They are not the hottest chile on the market, but some of them can reach up to half a million Scoville heat units. Not something to be sniffed at in terms of hot peppers. While they won't burn your skin in the same way as a thermal burn, anyone who has experienced a jalapeno burn knows how insidious it can be. The chemicals from the jalapeno chile can get under your nails, enter exposed skin or even find their way to sensitive parts of the body. oneHOWTO shows you how to treat a jalapeno burn to stop this nasty sensation from getting worse.
Why do jalapenos burn?
Before we share some possible solutions for burns from hot peppers, it is important to have a little bit of knowledge about the active ingredient in jalapenos. Most importantly, jalapenos contain capsaicin, the active component which causes the burning heat sensation when it comes in contact with certain tissue (like our skin). This is why you feel burning, stinging and pain in your skin when you touch their juices. This is most common if you are prepapring a meal with spicy hot peppers as the juice from the peppers leaks out onto your skin.
Like the famous Spanish padron pepper, it is hard to tell if a jalapeno is hot just by looking at it. This is because they vary in heat, some even being quite mild. However, you might notice that your jalapenos have some greyish marks on the sides which look like scars in the skin of the pepper. This is known as 'corking' and it's generally considerd to be an indication of heat.
If you consume capsaicin in huge amounts, it can cause varied symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea. If you touch your eyes with jalapeno juice on your hands, you feel intense pain, tearing and even conjunctivitis. Capsaicin has a hydrophobic nature, meaning that it does not dissolve in water. This is why the pain remains even if you wash your hands with lots of water.
However, it is soluble in other material such as certain oils and alcohol. Even milk can be helpful in treating jalapeno burn, as it contains casein. It is a lipophilic substance that works by surrounding and washing away capsaicin molecules from the area.
Jalapeno Burn Treatments
As it is hard to remove jalapeno burn with water and soap, there are other remedies which can be effective in treating it fast. Here, we are going to talk about some of them:
Lemon contains citric acid that is proved to be effective in neutralizing alkaline effects of jalapenos. While your skin is burning, you may apply juice of a lemon directly on the burn. You should feel instant relief with this trick. If you don’t have a lemon, you may also substitute it with orange juice or tomato juice to treat the jalapeno burn, as they also contain citric acid that can be helpful in countering its effects. They may not be as quick in treating the burn as lemon or lime.
Jalapenos contain capsaicin which is found to be soluble in alcohol. You can get instant relief from jalapeno burn by drinking a glass of beer or applying it directly on the burning skin area. Although alcohol does not work like a neutralizer, it breaks down the capsaicin and spreads it around. This means that although alcohol can bring quick immediate relief, but it will be temporary and the burning sensation can come back if not treated completely. A stronger alcohol like whisky might work better at treating the burn, but it might provide one of its own, so it's not recommended to treat chilli burn with hard liquor.
Baking soda is one of the most efficient methods of treating jalapeno burn. After cutting jalapenos, you will have a burning sensation in your hands which you can quickly eliminate with the help of a baking soda paste. Just make a thick paste by mixing water in baking soda. Apply this paste on your hands and fingers. Leave the paste on the area until it completely dries up. Once the paste dries, you can wash it in running water. The capsaicin should wash away with it.
Starchy foods like potato are also effective in relieving the burning sensation that you feel after eating, touching or cutting jalapenos. If you have burning sensation on any part of your skin, grate a piece of potato and apply it to the area. Let it stay there for a couple of minutes, as it will allow the potato to absorb the capsaicin from the area. After that, you can wash off the area with cold water.
Chocolate is not only delicious, but it can also be an effective remedy to treat jalapeno burn. Because jalapeno contains capsaicin which is soluble in fat, chocolate will provide plentiful of fat to dissolve it. You may apply some chocolate syrup on the area, or eat a piece of high fat chocolate for amazing results. While dark chocolate has other health benefits, it won't have as much fat as its milky cousin.
Honey also has a cooling and soothing effect when applied on skin. If you have burning tongue after eating jalapeno, put a drop of honey on your tongue and roll it around the mouth. If you have a burning sensation on any part of your skin, you can apply a few drops of honey on the area to get a soothing effect immediately.
As mentioned earlier also, milk is an effective remedy to treat jalapeno burn. It contains phosphoprotein which has a hidden property to remove capsaicin from your nerve receptors. If you are mouth is burning with jalapeno, you can drink cold milk to get instant relief. If you have applied jalapeno on your skin and your skin is burning, apply some cold milk directly on the area. In place of cold milk, you may also get relief by using cottage cheese, plain yogurt, ice cream or sour cream.
Capsaicin present in jalapenos is also soluble in vegetable oils. Swishing a drop of vegetable oil in your mouth or on your skin after touching or eating jalapenos will be effective in relieving the burning sensation. Although it may take a little longer to start working, it can give you relief when no other remedy is round the corner.
White toothpaste contains peppermint which is already known for its cooling and soothing effects. Some people recommend applying white toothpaste on minor skin burns so that blisters do not form, but we can't recommend putting it on open skin. However, if your skin has a burning sensation from hot peppers, applying a little dollop of white toothpaste on the area provide an immediate soothing effect.
Olive oil always gives a soothing effect on your skin, even when you apply it on normal skin. This is why the Romans so famously used it in their bathing rituals. So, when you apply it on the area of skin that is burning with jalapeno juices, you can get immediate relief within seconds. Just apply some olive oil on the area, leave it for a few minutes, and get immediate relief.
Mixture of sugar and water
If your mouth or skin is burning with jalapeno juices, you can make a solution of water and sugar in equal amounts and rinse the area with it. This is a highly effective remedy. It should give an instant soothing effect, but you need to continue rinsing the area until all of the pain subsides and you get complete relief.
If you have touched your eyes after cutting jalapenos, you will feel extreme burning sensation in your eyes. You can cut two slices of cucumber and put them on your eyes. You will not only remove burning sensation from your eyes, but will also have them refreshed instantly.
While we have said that water is not a good solvent for capsaicin in jalapeno peppers, treating your eyes is a sensitive matter. If you have rubbed your eyes with your fingers after touching or cutting jalapenos, then you can flush them with sterile cold water to get relief. Don't put any of the other remedies from this list in your eye as they might irritate them further. Only use sterile water or a medicated eye wash specially used for this purpose. You may apply a cold compress on your eyes afterwards to keep them cool.
If you want to get rid of hot pepper burns on your skin like jalapenos can give, prevention is better than cure. Wear some clean rubber or latex gloves to protect your hands. While the poppers might be hot, they won't be hot enough to break through the gloves. Part of the main reason is to make sure the jalapeno juice doesn't get under your nails.
If you are confident you can cut or chop chile peppers without damaging the skin on your hands (some people claim to have asbestos fingers), just make sure you wash them immediately afterwards. If you don't you might end up accidentally rubbing it on a sensitive area like your eyes or even genitals. Ouch!
Hot chile peppers are not the only type of burn you might get. Check out our article on how to treat a motorcycle burn if you want to know how other burns are treated.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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