While chili peppers can bring amazing flavor to foods of all kinds, there’s one thing that you’ve got to watch out for: chili burn. Treating chili pepper burn due to touching or eating hot peppers is not something you can simply treat with water. In fact, you’ll find that water does nothing at all. It may even make you feel worse!
So what to do? Here are a few good remedies that you should follow if chili burn has got you down. If one doesn’t work as well for you, try the next on the list.
Water is not your friend here.
This is important to remember. The heat you feel in a chili pepper burn is caused by capsaicin. And while capsaicin is not an oil, per se – the compound has oil-like qualities. The first one being: it repels water. So that water you’re throwing at your burning mouth and hands is doing you no good.
Your best option: Milk
If you watch any extreme chili pepper eating videos, you’ll often see them running for milk the minute the pain gets intense. There’s a reason why. Acidic things break down oils, and milk, it may surprise you, is slightly acidic. So milk not only feels good because it’s thick and coats your throat, it also relieves the burn faster than anything else out there.
If you’ve got hands burning from peppers, you can also soak your hands in milk to provide relief. For both drinking and soaking, cold milk is best. If the milk gets warm over soak time, replace it with fresh milk straight from the refrigerator. If you don’t have milk around – other dairy products will work as substitutes as well, such as ice cream, cottage cheese, and yogurt.
The next best things:
Acidic liquids: Citrus juices can work here, especially lime juice and lemon juice. But of course neither of these are pleasant to drink. For chili pepper burns on the skin, this is an excellent option.
Vegetable Oils: It’s sort of like fighting fire with fire here. Capsaicin is soluble in vegetable oils. You can scrub your hands with some to relieve the pain. You could even gargle with a little bit to relieve a burning mouth. But note that this tactic may end up surprising you and spreading the heat around more. It’s essentially diluting the heat, but making it more likely to spread (in its weakened form) in the process.
Other chili burn remedies that may work
Don’t have milk, acidic liquids, or vegetable oils handy? That’s ok. There are other things that you can do that may help stop the pain.
- Gargling with sugar-water: This works, but it’s only effective during the gargling. It’s short relief – the minute you spit it out, the pain will return.
- Drinking alcohol: Just like with vegetable oils, capsaicin is soluble in alcohol. A beer will help relieve some pain. But, obviously, this is not a solution for everyone.
- Placing Vaseline on the effected areas: Think of it like masking the pain. Vaseline will curb the burning feeling pretty quickly. This is a topical solution only. Don’t put Vaseline in your mouth to combat chili burn!