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.
If you're here, you're likely experiencing (or have experienced) chili burn. Do us a favor and get some food prep gloves, so you aren't in the place where you need to land on this page again! Chili burn is not something we wish on anyone. And food prep gloves are cheap.
Table of Contents
- Water is not your friend here
- Your best option: Milk
- The next best things
- Other chili burn remedies that may work
- Must-read related posts
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
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.
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 affected 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.
Must-read related posts
- Jalapeño in Eye? Here’s What to Do: The eye is one of the most painful areas to get chili burn. This post covers how to handle it, no matter the chili used.
- Capsaicin – The Compound Behind the Pepper Scale: Understand how the spiciness of chilies works.
- Are Dried Peppers Hotter than Fresh? Which form brings the heat more?
I have had a bad burn on my hand. Wish I would have known about the Vaseline. I did the death it challenge without a glove, let’s just say, 12 million Scoville does a number on you
Strawberries help to relieve chilli burn for me.
Baking Soda People. Scrub and wash hands with it. If it is still burning make a paste and let it sit.
For a hot mouth if you can’t or won’t drink cows milk. Take 8 oz warm water and 1 – 2 tsp of baking soda swish it around and spit out. This is also an old remedy (reduce to 1 tsp per warm cup of water) for acid indigestion or upset stomach. Just sip it.
I once inadvertently got severe chilli burn on my hands – I tried all the suggestions here with no relief. Then I read somewhere that Bicarbonate of Soda, or toothpaste can work to ease the burn. I had some bicarbonate of soda toothpaste to hand so I tried that and it really helped.
I often end up in severe oral pain because my SO “forgets” that’s he’s put chilli in something or leaves it spread over a food preparation surface. An amount that other people claim not to be able to detect leaves my mouth burning for hours. We’re both vegan so no dairy in the house and alcohol and fatty foods make me very ill. What’s my best option? I suck on ice cubes for a couple of hours, but as soon as I stop the pain returns. I’ve tried soy and oat milk but it doesn’t do anything. I enjoy eating… Read more »
I got burned on the hand for first time ever never felt pain like it an all my years of defence work or decades of full contact karate. Each time I tried some of the recipes it seemed tospread anyway after three hours and thinking I would have to go to bed with this I put on aloe Vera as my hand had been in water all night to cool them. Either a. All the suggestions worked or the aloe Vera hand cream did. Either way the pain settled almost at once so good luck folks
I deseeded chillies and put my hands in a bowl of water from the chillies with the seeds .. was in tremendous pain with burning sensation that was for hours .. ice helps but is temporary when all else fails I swear this works ..keep sucking you fingers for a long Time while Watching a movie 🍿 only this helped me..I normally do no write online but was moved to let others suffering pure hell do this to save yourself 😁
How about Apple Cider Vinegar? Very acidic. Gargle with and wash with? Try it and let me know!
As I was reading “Acidic liquids: Citrus juices can work here, especially lime juice and lemon juice. But of course, neither of these are pleasant to drink.” I was actually taking a sip of lemon juice. I love sour things as much as I love hot things.