I never where gloves in the kitchen when I am making hot sauce. Not wearing gloves while making hot sauce is a very irresponsible thing to do. However, I seldomly use any peppers hotter than a jalapeno or serrano as these two peppers are my favorites. Shame on me for not wearing gloves because even peppers as mild as these always seem to irritate my skin.
What should I do if hot sauce is burning my skin?
Baking soda paste and corn starch can alleviate areas of the skin that are burning from hot sauce by absorbing the capsaicin oils in hot peppers. Also, washing the area with COLD WATER and an oil dissolving dish soap like Dawn can break up the capsaicin oils from the hot peppers quicker than a bar soap. Other methods include aloe vera gel, vinegar, milk, and hand degreaser.
When the word “burn” is associated with hot sauce it is not referring to the burn from a flame or fire and there isn’t any permanent damage. The oils in the capsaicin only stimulate the nerve cells in your hands or other sensitive areas of the body by creating that “burning” sensation. It eventually goes away but can be very irritating and even slightly painful the hotter the peppers that you may be using.
According the newscientist.com our hands and fingertips are one of the most sensitive areas of our bodies. Therefore, we will feel the burn from hot sauce in an increased manner more than other parts of the body and because this can be the main point of contact with the hot pepper when making a homemade hot sauce.
I have worked with my hands a lot in and out of the kitchen and I just don’t like wearing gloves. I like the sense of touch with whatever I am working with. I worked as a painter for years and used many different chemicals without wearing gloves. Some chemicals irritated my hands, and some did not. I was really surprised at how irritating the burn of a jalapeno and serrano pepper were on my skin because each of these peppers have a low concentration of capsaicin, the component responsible for the heat in a hot pepper.
Here is my experiment:
*Please do not try this at home
After I sliced open the serrano peppers, I remove the seeds by just scraping through the peppers with my fingers. What ends up happening is the residue gets under my fingernails, but this is what I wanted to happen to discover what would relieve them the best. I then rubbed the inside of the pepper or the pepper walls all over the back of my hands as if I was scrubbing with them. Don’t do this!…it hurts!
I tested each of these methods on purpose to see which one worked the best for me, but I am not putting hot sauce in my eye to test any theories to relieve that type of burn. However, I did wash my face once with my hands after I had cut up some jalapenos and thought I had thoroughly removed any of the residue. Duh! Peanut butter is great at relieving hot sauce burn from your mouth so I was curious if it would work on the skin as well as some other methods…it did! Here’s the rest of my results…
19 ways to relieve hot sauce burn from your hands
1) Rubbing alcohol and dish soap
I dabbed a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and rubbed the back of my hand where the burn was. I then washed my hands with hot soap and water but he burning sensation seemed to be agitated every time I run hot water over my hands. Cold water was much better and an oil dissolving dish soap like Dawn will also work well with cold water.
2) High proof alcohol
I tried the same concept with 80 proof alcohol as I did with the rubbing alcohol and did feel a slight relief. I did not want to continue doing it for several times as that’s just a waste of good whiskey. High proof alcohol will work much like rubbing alcohol, but it will be much more expensive, but if that’s all you got…
3) Aloe vera gel
Aloe Vera Gel works great on your hands for a variety of burns, cuts or other similar abnormalities you may have to your hands that are causing irritation. When applied to the hands after a jalapeno or serrano burn it does provide instant relief and a cooling sensation, but only temporarily or until it dries up. Applied with a heavy layer, it was able to offer significant relief for a few hours until the burn eventually wore off. Aloe vera is much more pleasant smelling then some other options on this list.
4) Weak bleach: 5 parts water, 1 part bleach
Not great but worked OK. Not the first choice I would make because I hate the smell of bleach. It did provide some relief, but I did not want to apply it again to see if it would get better. I would not recommend this method to be your first option but works if you do not have anything else on this list. Straight bleach can also irritate your skin if it is not diluted in water properly.
5) Corn starch
Corn starch works similarly to the baking soda by drawing out the capsaicin oils from the skin. I only mixed a paste and poured it over my hands the same way I applied the baking soda. Soaking your entire hand or affected area or completely submerging it in a corn starch paste will produce better results. Simply mix powdered corn starch with water until it becomes a liquid consistency. Corn starch in powdered form will work as well but a paste will adhere to areas of the skin better.
6) Neutrogena Deep Clean Cleanser facial soap
This is one of the better remedies for hot pepper burn on the hands or skin. I have only tried the brand listed above and it took three times, but it did last the longest. Also, it smells way better than bleach or vinegar and feels natural on my hands because it is formulated to be applied to the skin. It did not relieve the burn completely but offered significant relief. Neutrogena makes a lot of products but don’t know if they all contain hydroxy like this one does.
7) Fresh citric juice, lime juice or lemon juice
Yup! Worked like the others. Provided temporary relief until I was able to deal with it. My hands have a strong tolerance to chemicals and a burn from hot peppers but a good way to determine how much residue is left on your hands is by licking your fingers. Sounds kind of silly but the tongue is much more sensitive than the hands. I still felt the heat and was not afraid of this test like I would after using bleach. In addition to removing the burning sensation I wanted to make sure that I was not transferring some of the residue on to other surfaces.
Vinegar worked much like the fresh lime juice did. It provided instant comfort on the back of my hands, but it did not relieve it permanently. I used it several times and the burning sensation felt slightly better each time. You will get better results soaking your hand in it if you have enough in stock. Soaking your hands in vinegar works best if you have hot pepper residue or hot sauce under your fingernails.
9) Cooking oil
I have only tried vegetable oil with this experiment, but it did not provide the immediate relief and cooling effect that some of the others did liquids and lotions did. I tried it three time and washed with cold water a dish soap each time as well. The burning sensation did go away, however slightly, with each application. Cooking oils like vegetable, canola, and safflower are concentrated fat that break down the capsaicin found in hot peppers and hot sauce.
The mustard provided only mild relief, but I only used it once and for a short while. I did not have a lot in the refrigerator to continue the experiment, but it is the vinegar content in the mustard that breaks down the capsaicin oils. Any condiment with a high amount of vinegar, as many do, will provide a similar relief.
11) Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, or any dairy
Milk worked ok to relieve the burn from hot sauce, but you will need to soak your entire hand or areas that are affected into the milk or dairy product. Simply pouring these items over your hands does not work as well. The same concept works for relieving the burning after eating hot sauce because the proteins found in milk will break down capsaicin. According to healthline whole milk and skim milk have the same amount of protein so they will work similarly at relieving hot sauce burn.
According to poison.org, the National Capital Poison Center states that Maalox antacid will be helpful in relieving the affected areas of the skin. Also, mdedge.com states similar results can occur within 30 minutes and other similar antacids work the same. Like other remedies, Maalox also works on other areas like settling a stomach from too much hot sauce.
13) Hand grease cleaner
This can be as effective as the degreasing dish detergent and can usually be removed with paper towels or left on for several minutes for better results. Try to stay away from water as much as you can because this can irritate sensitive hands even further. These hand cleaners are usually thick and have a consistency between hand soap and lotion so they will absorb into the pores sufficiently. Get the best hand grease cleaner I’ve ever used here by Goop.
14) Peanut butter
I covered my hands completely or basically washed my hands thoroughly in peanut butter. It tasted great with a little zip of serrano pepper to it. I may have to make a recipe combining the two. It did provide some relief much like it can if you have eaten hot sauce that you cannot tolerate.
15) Nail polish remover
It’s the acetone in the nail polish remover that will break up the capsaicin oils found in hot peppers. This has to be done several times with large quantities of nail polish remover. This was not my most favorite to relieve the burning sensation but after applying I did wash my hands several times with dish detergent.
Rub your hands with mud because everyone has mud laying around their kitchen. I have not found anything with any significance stating that this is an effective way to relieve your hands from hot sauce burn or any burn. I have a reduction in the amount of burn but I am sure this process depends on the PH level of the soil used in making the mud.
Many of these items worked to cool the burning sensation from my hands but the burn would come back, some quicker than others. What works the best is washing your hands with hot water and an oil dispersing dish detergent like dawn and then rubbing your hands with olive oil or vegetable oil.
17) Baking soda paste
This works great! Almost every kitchen has a box of baking soda in the pantry as well. I mixed in just enough water to make a thick paste and dumped it on the back of my hands. I gave it about 1 minute and washed if off with cold water. The burn did not come back in the areas where it was applied. Get some Arm & Hammer Baking Soda here and make your own paste.
18. Baking soda and sour cream
Baking soda and sour cream works in a similar manner to straight baking soda. I read about this method somewhere, but I don’t think the sour cream is a necessary step, but it does provide the necessary dairy like the other remedies. Everyone is affected differently by a hot pepper burn to their hands so every remedy may not work for everyone.
This is by far the best remedy for a lot of things, especially hot sauce burns to the skin. It obviously is not providing instant relief but the burning sensation from hot peppers does not cause permanent damage to your hands or other parts of your body and will eventually go away.
What did not work…
Starchy foods – bread & uncooked rice
Again, I must have read this somewhere and half expected it to work as it has for removing water from a cell phone. I don’t think I was patient enough to test this experiment, but it certainly did not provide any instant relief. Bread, rice, and starchy foods work excellent for relieving hot sauce burn from the mouth.
Don’t be a pussy
C’mon…you must have certainly made or eaten hot sauce before and expected this. Almost every recipe I have come across has wearing gloves listed somewhere in the steps. You can try several of these methods, most work, or you can just tolerate it for a couple days.
Don’t rub hot peppers on your hands for the purpose of a blog post. This experiment went on for days and gave an uncomfortable sensation to my hands that I didn’t expect. I know I can tolerate it but at times I just shook my head trying to understand what I was doing.
JUST WEAR GLOVES!
Latex gloves, rubber gloves, plastic gloves, winter gloves, baseball mitt etc… get em here!
All this could have easily been avoided if I had just worn gloves. I am becoming more and more accustomed to them and have started wearing them working with hotter peppers like habanero and ghost.
Note that the water used to wash your hands will irritate the burn further, but it is the soap that is breaking up the capsaicin oils that are saturated in your hands. Don’t worry we are not going to discuss the burn that can happen the next morning on the toilet and I ain’t stickin no peanut butter up my butt. The results could vary depending on the brand of products used, the type of hot pepper and someone’s individual tolerance to hot pepper burn.