Here’s the thing about me. I injure myself at least 3 times a week. I cut myself, burn myself and just generally maim myself. I have bruises and no idea where they came from, scratches that seem to appear out of nowhere and this week for instance, my left butt cheek was so sore I could barely even sit down. Just the left cheek. And I have no idea why. I was doing something, that’s for sure. I could have been hopping on one foot for an extended period of time (which is totally possible).
Regardless, I injure myself. A lot. It’s not because I’m particularly clumsy or careless … I just do a lot. Most of the time I just ignore these injuries and know they’ll go away in a few days.
But last week was different.
I had a self induced injury that I couldn’t ignore. Nor could anyone who looked at me.
It all began with a pot of chili. I was home alone, making one of the last pots of chili for the season (I have a “no chilly, no chili rule). It just seems weird to eat chili while looking at someone with tan lines and mosquito bites.
It was all done and simmering on the stove when I got an itchy eye. That happens, you know. People *do* get itchy eyes. Now, I didn’t scratch my eye out due to itchiness … in fact I barely even touched my eye. But as it turns out, when you have a finger full of hot pepper juice, that’s all it takes.
I scratched at my eye with a finger that had pepper oil on it. I *had* washed my hands after cutting my peppers, and I was pretty careful while cutting the peppers too. I didn’t wear rubber gloves or anything, ’cause …. well, who *really* does that? Especially when cutting a pepper as innocuous as a California Chile pepper? They’re normally pretty mild. “Normally” being the operative word.
So I scratched at my eye and about 2 seconds later underneath my eye started to burn. BURN. I left it. I figured it’d go away. Because I wanted it to. Funny, that technique never works with headaches or annoying visitors either.
This by the way, is the offending pot of chili and angry little pepper.
So I turned to a pretty reliable technique for getting rid of pepper oil burns.
To effectively get rid of a pepper oil burn you have to know a little bit about why it burns so much and why water will NOT get rid of it.
Hot peppers contain Capsaicin, a natural oil. If you get it on your skin it burns. A lot. Just ask the makers of pepper spray. You cannot wash the oil off. So in order to get rid of the pain, you have the neutralize the alkaline oil. And the best way to do that is with something acidic. And believe it or not … milk is incredibly acidic.
So if you get a pepper burn anywhere on your body, including your eyes, your fingers, your mouth, your … um … private parts … the very best thing you can do is soak it in milk.
The tissue underneath my eye was burning as well as my actual eyeball and the corner of my eye. So I felt my way around the kitchen to the fridge, poured some milk into a bowl, and then poured milk into my eye like you would with an eye cup, circa 1800. I then soaked a makeup remover pad in the cold milk and pressed it on my eye. I wanted to continue on with my day because burned eyeball or not, I had shit to do.
So I fashioned a little eyeball protector sling out of some gauze I found. Then I fastened it to my head with one of those small butterfly clips that keep the orchid stem attached to a stick. ’Cause even if you’re injured, there’s no reason to lose all fashion sense. I think my picture is proof that being in the centre of a medical emergency doesn’t mean you can’t look your best.
I left my eye sling on for 20 minutes total and I replaced the cotton pad with a freshly soaked pad every 5 minutes or so. You should feel instant relief from the milk, but as the burn starts to come back, replace with new, cold milk.
When the burn seemed to stop burning, I removed everything and let the cats lick at my face. No sense wasting good, dried up, crusty eye milk.
To reiterate …
Now if you’ll excuse me I have a mystery scab that needs to be tended to.