The garden has blown me away with the insane amount of vegetables that it has produced this year. I mean, considering it’s our first time growing on this land, it’s done surprisingly well! I brought in a bushel of jalapeno peppers earlier this week · and since I already had a bunch in the freezer · I decided to pickle them.
Everything went really well until that evening when it felt like my hands were on fire. Never in my life have I experienced such pain from cutting peppers (especially ones that sit so low on the Skovill scale) and get this, it even has a name?
It’s called Hot Pepper Hands and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone!
Back in my early 20’s I worked in a Latin restaurant and we cut SUPER HOT peppers pretty much every day. It never once bothered me except for the time I wiped away my tears from cutting onions. Now THAT was a mistake but even then, the pain wasn’t anywhere near what it was this time around.
I don’t know why all of a sudden I got [the now infamous] hot pepper hands, but I did and I seriously felt like I wanted to cut off my fingers (anything to relieve the pain) I was that desperate y’all!
I didn’t know what to do so I sat down and [tried] to do an internet search. You wouldn’t believe how many home remedies popped up. You also wouldn’t believe how many of those I attempted (and not a single one of them worked!). I tried everything from yogurt baths, to bleach dunks, rubbing alcohol, and of course, soap and water. These would work momentarily, but as soon as stopped, the pain quickly returned.
You see, capsaicin is a colorless, highly pungent irritant found in chili peppers (and surprisingly not found in the seeds themselves, but rather the white membrane) and just happens to be hydrophobic as well. This means you can’t just wash it off with water.
GREAT, juuuust GREAT.
Fast forward to midnight. My hands were still on fire and I wanted to sleep….but I couldn’t. The agony from my hot pepper hands was just too intense. I searched the internet in vain for a solution. I came across something that sounded totally far fetched yet at the same time, totally made sense.
I slipped on my fuzzy slippers and matching pink fuzzy robe (don’t judge me) and headed to the kitchen with my burning hot pepper hands. I grabbed the fancy bottle of olive oil out of the pantry (I’m sure you could use ANY oil but this was on the front row and I was in too much pain to find a stool, climb up to the top shelf and grab the jumbo bottle of peanut oil that I normally use for deep frying).
How to Get Hot Pepper Oil Off Your Hands:
First I lathered with soap. You’ll want to use one that will REALLY cut through the oils. Rinse it off with HOT water (the key is to open the pores in your skin so that the capsaicin can come OUT). I’m gonna keep it real with ya. This step will be VERY difficult since barely tepid water will feel like molten lava from hell.
I followed this with a heavy drizzle of olive oil on my hands and rubbed it in well. I rubbed · and rubbed some more · before grabbing the sink brush and [painfully] scrubbing away the pepper oils from my uber delicate skin tissue. This is the point in the process where I was seriously considering a trip to the hospital or Antartica.
The process was repeated at least 6 times and I could slowly feel the pain subside.
I literally fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow that night. It worked. I couldn’t believe it.
Tips to PREVENT Hot Pepper Hands:
Wear gloves – this is a no brainer but having cut thousands of pounds of hot peppers and this never happened, I honestly didn’t think I would need them! If you don’t have gloves, you can always slip on some plastic baggies in a pinch.
Secondly, you can try applying a coat of oil to your hands before you begin – this will help create a barrier between your skin and the hot oil of the peppers.
Buy a jar of pre-made pickled jalapeno peppers. I have already decided I won’t be able to enjoy my canned jalapenos thanks to my PPHPHPTSD (pickled pepper hot pepper hands post-traumatic stress disorder).
I guess the lesson learned here is that I need to create a deterrent spray using my leftover jalapeno capsaicin because it would work beautifully in keeping the deer off of our tomato plants! I should probably also invest in a good quality hazmat suit.
Have you ever had hot pepper hands? If so, what was your remedy for relief?