From household remedies to science-backed solutions, this guide offers insights on various methods for mitigating chili-induced discomfort. Whether you’re a cooking enthusiast working with peppers in the kitchen or someone looking to ease the discomfort after enjoying spicy foods, these hacks are designed to assist in providing relief and comfort.

Use Gloves

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Gloves are your best friends when dealing with hot peppers! Before even touching a chili pepper, put on a pair of disposable gloves. This will create a barrier between the pepper’s capsaicin and your skin, preventing any irritation.

Avoid Touching Your Face

A guy chef touching his face
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This is probably the most important point to note. Most people have a habit of randomly touching their face, eyes, nose, or mouth. But when handling a pepper, this is not a very good habit! Even with gloves on, avoid touching your face, especially the eyes, nose, or mouth. Capsaicin can be transferred easily and cause immediate discomfort.

Wash Everything Thoroughly

Cleaning the sink with gloves
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After handling peppers, first discard the disposable gloves and then wash your hands, even if you’ve worn gloves. Clean any utensils, cutting boards, and countertops that have come in contact with the peppers using soapy water.

Ventilate You Kitchen When Toasting Chilies

Turning on the kitchen exhaust fan
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Some recipes like birria ask for toasting chili peppers to enhance their flavor. When you do this, ensure proper ventilation in your kitchen by opening windows or using an exhaust fan. Good ventilation helps disperse any capsaicin that may become airborne during toasting.

Wear a Mask

Wearing facemask while cutting chilies
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When you handle chili peppers or cook with them, tiny particles of capsaicin can become airborne. Inhaling these particles can lead to irritation of the respiratory system, causing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and throat irritation. Wear a mask to prevent these capsaicin particles from entering your nose and mouth.

Deseed And Devein

Cleaning and removing the seeds from the chilies
Photo Credit: Maricruz Avalos

The seeds and the white membrane (known as the placenta) inside chili peppers contain the majority of the capsaicin. Removing these parts reduces the overall spiciness of the pepper. When preparing a meal for a group, deseeding and deveining chili peppers allows you to control the level of spiciness, making the dish more accessible to people with varying heat preferences.

Do All Chili Peppers Cause Irritation?

Cutting chilies
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The answer again lies in the level of capsaicin present in them. Not all chili peppers are spicy. The mild ones won’t cause too much irritation as compared to the spicy ones. However, even if you are dealing with a very mild pepper, you should avoid touching your eyes as it is very sensitive, and even minimal capsaicin can cause major irritation.

What Cause Chili Peppers Irritation?

Various colorful chilies on a dark background.
Photo Credit: Maricruz Avalos

At the heart of the chili pepper’s spicy kick is caused by a compound called capsaicin. This chemical is what gives peppers their heat, and it’s concentrated mainly in the seeds and white membranes inside the pepper. When this compound comes in contact with skin or mucous membranes, it can cause a burning sensation. In short, the stronger the chili pepper is, the higher the capsaicin will be, and the stronger will be the burning.

What to Do in Case of Skin Irritation From Chili Peppers?

Washing hands in the sink
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Gently rinse the irritated skin with cool running water for several minutes. Avoid using hot water, as it can exacerbate the burning sensation. Soak the affected area in cold milk or apply a milk-soaked cloth as a compress. Dairy products contain casein, which can help neutralize the capsaicin responsible for the heat.

Don’t be afraid of handling chili peppers

Different kind of chilies
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Avoiding chili peppers just because they cause irritation is not the right thing to do! Honestly! Instead of keeping your distance from them, you can learn the right way to handle them and enjoy them in many dishes.

Sizzling Spice: Mexican Recipes to Heat Up Your Kitchen

Papitas con chili on a plate.
Photo Credit: Maricruz Avalos Flores

Discover the dynamic essence of Mexico those recipes. From the savory Chicken Tinga to the aromatic Chilorio, infuse your kitchen with a burst of sizzling, authentic flavors that embody the rich culinary heritage of Mexico. Go to Mexican Recipes to Heat Up Your Kitchen.

Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.

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