I make a lot of hot sauces in my kitchen and I almost never wear gloves. I am constantly touching the area around my face and on several occasions have gotten the residuals left on my hands from cutting hot peppers, in my eyes!
What do you do if you just got hot sauce in your eye?
DON’T touch or rub your eye with pepper-soaked fingers, this will just contaminate it further. Your hands will need to be clean and void of any residue from the peppers. You can achieve this by washing your hands with a dish soap before touching any portion of your eye or other areas of your body. If you get hot sauce or a residual pepper juice in your eye while making hot sauce, here are eight processes that will relieve your eyes from burning.
Dip a clean cloth or paper towel in milk and gently dab the area. Do not rub your eye with the cloth or your bare hands. This will irritate your eye further because you may have residual sauce on your hands. It is ok to get a few drops of milk in your eye as the dairy will neutralize the capsaicin as it does in your mouth if a sauce is too hot. This may seem awkward but can be done by gently pressing the milk-soaked cloth above your eye until a few drops fall into your eye.
2. Ice Cream
A spoonful of ice cream pressed against your eye works the same way as milk and other dairy products. A plain vanilla will ensure your eye is void of any contact with chocolate chunk or any other flavorings the peppers may have.
If you have hot sauce in your eye then there is probably some degree of tears running down your face already, this is good. Do not rub them but absorb them with a clean cloth or paper towel, gently blinking to allow the tears to enter into your eyes.
4. Blinking rapidly
This works in the same way that crying does. Blinking at rapid intervals can create tears to flush out any residuals from the peppers. Squinting for a few seconds at a time can help squeeze out the tears.
5. Dawn dish soap
Dawn Dish Soap is notorious for removing grease from dishes and can breakdown the oils in peppers as well. Start by washing the area around your eyes with a soapy towel and water. Be careful to not get soap in your eyes as this will irritate it as well. If you get some soap in your eyes that will only have the same effect of removing the irritants from the peppers but will also sting a little as well.
6. Tough it out
Time can heal a lot of things. Step outside away from the area your working at and get some fresh air. There are probably some irritants in the air whether you are cooking hot peppers or just cutting them. Walk around outside and take some deep breaths at regular intervals.
7. Saline solution
Gently drip a few drops of saline solution in your eye and tilt your face down to the ground to flush out the pepper oils. Do this a few times until some of the stinging has gone away. Purchase some from your local pharmacy.
8. See a doctor
I have seen this on every list of remedies for treating your eyes after hot sauce contamination and I think it is an obvious answer. If nothing else, you have done is producing any results your personal physician can certainly offer some condolence or possibly a saline solution.
Will rubbing my eyes make hot sauce burn more?
Do not rub your eyes with your hands as this will only irritate them further and you may still have hot sauce on them. It is probably a natural reaction to automatically attempt to sooth a sensitive area with a gentle message, but this will not absorb the sauce and only spread the irritants more.
Hot sauce is stinging my eyes, should I flush it with water?
Do not use water as it will only spread out the effects of the sauce and irritate it further. This seems like a logical solution as water is often used to flush out many irritants from the eye. Although this seams like a common remedy and you are probably within proximity of a sink, try the other methods.
Cooking with peppers
Cooking with hot peppers always burns my eyes and makes me cough. The range hood exhaust fan is the best method of removing the irritants caused by cooking peppers but If you are not using a range hood exhaust fan you may want open your windows and prop a small fan to blow away from you. I was recently cooking jalapenos and vinegar on the stove and caused my wife and her guest to start gasping and coughing. The guests were unexpected, but I turned off the stove, opened the windows and turned on the ceiling fan. If I had done this before hand, there may not have been any uncomfortable guests.
Ultimately you will want to use gloves and be careful. When I am in the kitchen I automatically move at a more rapid pace as I may have several burners and the oven on because I am cooking multiple things at once. Slow down and prepare a small batch without any outside interference such as kids, dogs or company to distract you. If you are making a sauce with a high level of SHU, getting hot sauce in your eye can cause serious pain and may cause you to miss your deadline of sauce production.