How to Get Relief From a Hot Pepper Burn Immediately.

Jalapeño burning your hands, eyes or … whatever else?  Allow me to show you how to get jalapeño off your hands as we enter pepper season. Because even though you should wear gloves when you slice hot peppers – you probably don’t do that.

Jalapeño peppers being sliced and deseeded on a wood cutting board.

I’m worried that you got to this post because you dipped your hands into jalapeno juice and are now running screaming around your kitchen so I’m getting to the important information immediately.

How to Treat a Hot Pepper Burn

Hot peppers contain Capsaicin, a natural oil.  So in order to get rid of the pain, you have the neutralize the alkaline oil.

The best way to do that is with something acidic.  You cannot wash away a hot pepper burn with soap and water.

  1. Douse or soak the area in milk. 
  2. Spread butter or yogurt on the burning area.
  3. Wash your hands with olive oil until the pain goes away and then wash your hands with soap and water.
  4. Dip your hands into a solution of 1 part bleach and 4 parts water. Don’t soak your hands in the bleach solution, just dip them in and take them out.  Wash your hands immediately afterwards.

Use whatever method will work best with where your burn is. I think dairy products work the best but use what you have. If you don’t have olive oil you can substitute with vegetable oil.

** ONLY use the milk method if the pepper burn is in your eyes.

I use the milk method all the time. 

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.  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 sometimes I need the pain to go away IMMEDIATELY. Like that time I suffered a chili con carne injury that I couldn’t ignore.  Nor could anyone who looked at me.


Woman with an eye patch soaked in milk to treat a pepper burn on her eye.


When you have a finger full of hot pepper juice you should avoid touching your eye.

Staub dutch oven filled with the ingredients for making chili including a banana pepper, tomatoes, bay leaf and beans.



I just soaked a pad in milk and wore it like an eye patch.


A glass bowl filled with milk with pepper membranes and seeds in the background.


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 or spread yogurt on it.

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.


Now if you’ll excuse me I have a  mystery scab that needs to be tended to.


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How to Get Relief From a Hot Pepper Burn Immediately.


  1. Lisa says:

    eye drops, like visine, are also mildly acidic. You can also use a diluted vinegar solution to wash your hands. Pour 50/50 vinegar and water into a bowl and soak your hands for a minute.

    I grow jalapenos and cayenne peppers, and when I freeze/can them in the fall, I DO wear the hospital-style non-latex gloves that you can buy at the drugstore!

  2. Melissa says:

    One word: goggles. Get yourself a pair of goggles – not only because they’re essential to swimming laps, but because they can do dual purpose for rinsing eyes. Or install one those eye washing sinks you find in chemistry labs.

    • Karen says:

      Melissa – I actually own a few pair of onion goggles. I’m going to be honest with you. If my eye itched, I’d just pull up the goggle and itch it. I know I would. ~ karen

  3. Sara says:

    LOVE your site! found it during the homies 2012. a-mazingness! wish i knew about the above pepper burn remedy two weeks ago when i diced chillies, for the first time ever, and without gloves! my fingers were slightly cracked and the chillies seeped into those cracks… my poor fingertips burned for a LONG time! never doing that again!

  4. Karena says:

    Karen you are too much! I hear Wendy’s has good Chili!

    Art by Karena
    The 2012 Artist Series

  5. Codi says:

    I love you (not in a stalker way), and I love your blog (in a stalker way), but this is the first time I’ve seen your facts be a little off. Milk? Only slightly acidic. It’s the FAT in milk that helps. I’d assume whole milk would work better than skim for your eye injury, or even better heavy cream – plus I think you’d get a better crust for the cats that way ;-)

  6. Barbie says:

    So sorry about your eye! However now I know how to cure a pepper burn should I get one someday. We have dried chili peppers out in the warehouse that we use in production of herb “wreaths” and my toddler (yrs ago) got into them and then rubbed his eyes ….we just had to wait it out….wish I had known then about the milk….however….he is allergic to milk so that wouldn’t have worked either I guess….hmmmmm

  7. marilyn says:

    charming look but at least it worked.

  8. Mary Werner says:

    Great way to start my day – with a laugh from you. I got lost in past posts and am now ordering the hand pepper grinder which is just too much fun for the kitchen. May be a better bedroom device as a signal to spouse for what lays (no pun intended) in store for the evening. Or take with me in the car to provide appropriate driving scores to those around me! Wish they made a 3 foot one for when my mother-in-law comes over.

  9. Magpiebird says:

    This morning I gave myself a twine burn on the eye! (lid/corner area.) And thought about googling how to treat a twine burn to the eye, but figured even the internet wouldn’t know that one. And here you are with pepper burns to the eye advice. So weird.

    • Magpiebird says:

      Also weird that a “You might also like” article on your site is treating a mild burn with the bleach method. O.o

      • Karen says:

        Hah! That works too. Nobody believes me, and everyone is scared of it, but it’s a fantastic cure for a mild burn. Apparently I burn myself a lot. ~ karen!

  10. Mary Kay says:

    I did that once – canning hot peppers and rubbed my eye – man 15 mins later I thought it was going to burn right out of my head. I read somewhere about using milk and grabbed the gallon jug and starting washing out my eye – worked BRILLIANTLY!!

  11. Kristin says:

    OMG!!! I hope you’re doing better today. Thanks for the great advice and the “oh so lovely” visual

  12. cred says:

    I have burned my eyes with residual chili oil on my hands but clearly to a lesser degree than yours since it usually subsides rather quickly without milk. Needless to say, relief to be had sooner is welcome- so thank you for the milk remedy.

    btw- the chili looks delicious. My mom always says that her meals taste better when she’s burned or cut herself while preparing it- although, then she enjoys it less. The sacrifices women make!

  13. Deborah says:

    OUCH! Love the new fashion trend you started, watch out Stella McCartney! LOL! And for the record, I don’t wear rubber gloves when dealing with peppers either…rubber gloves are for wussies. :P

  14. Arlene says:

    I had an eyeball burn from a mystery plant last week too…was leaving the house to run back to work _ looked out at my poor little chickens longing for something green from the yard to eat.. So I decided to grab whatever large and leafy plant I could – which included the identifiable dandelion and another larger and yummier looking plant that left an orange stain on my fingers when I picked it. I had second thoughts as I stuffed this mystery plant through the chicken wire ~ but it clearly did not stop me from just crossing my fingers and hoping I didn’t just kill them. Later in the afternoon I too had an itchy eyeball— and used the offending stained finger to scratch my eyeball. Needless to say it Burned Like Hell. Without my newly instilled knowledge (thanks for that) I suffered in vain. Birds are still alive — now just get this crazy burning sensation in my throat when ever I eat an egg :)

  15. Ginny says:

    I haven’t done that yet. Yet being the key word. But I always seem to end up with a bruise and/or scratch that I have no idea when or where it happened. I usually blame the cats for the scratches whether or not it looks like a cat scratch. I mean they get blamed for any of the strange noises that happen in the middles of the night. They don’t seem to mind. Hope your eye feels better!

  16. Diana says:

    Poor Karen!

    I hope, you are fine again…

    And -ähhhm- I am the one who wears rubber gloves:o)
    I hate cutting cold and bloody meat.(Eating- yeah! feeling-no!)
    Or the smell of garlic on my fingers two days after cutting it.

    All the best for you

    • Brenda j says:

      To remove smells like fish and garlic etc., from your skin… and skunk from your dog…use toothpaste! Cheap and easy.

      • Diana says:

        Thanks Brenda j:o)

        sounds good! I will try it.
        someone gave me the advice, to use coffee grounds.
        The only success I had where brown fingers smelling like a coffeebar!

    • White says:

      For garlic (at least), “wash/rub” with clean stainless steel (although they sell s.s. bars for the purpose, any s.s will do, e.g.: sink, utensils, etc.). Effect is immediate.

  17. Yikes! I was so wrapped up in your story I burned my breakfast. Sounds very painful. Hope you are ok now.

  18. Vivienne Grainger says:

    Karen, you crack me up. Not for the situations you get yourself into (because I’ve done the same thing) but your reactions to them. You go, girl.

    As for dipping one’s private parts into milk, I’ve always wondered how guys reloaded that thing …

  19. Spokangela says:

    Well, now you know two people who’ve endured the private parts burned with pepper “situation”. Sure wish I’d have known about the milk thing then…
    I was making Thai… for the new boyfriend, took a shower, decided to “clean up the nether regions” and WHOA!!!! Well, needless to say he go NO ACTION that night.

    I love that you said you had “shit to do” I swear you are one of our long lost sisters :) There’s four of us and we love dink jokes, doin’ “shit” ourselves and gnarly dogs from Ikea. And, we don’t have a Karen… It’s plausible!

  20. Brenda j says:

    A friend ended-up hospitalized due to this stuff on her hands…2nd degree. FOR THE LOVE!!!
    Please be careful Karen; if you have to start typing in braille..I wont be able to read your blogs. (that probably sounds nasty)Its all about me.

    • Rodney says:

      I ate red pepper flakes raw on pizza… Burned like hell and guess what? I came back and ate it again… LOL :)

  21. Jamie says:

    Great tip! I have a tendency to hurt myself a lot too…I have a 6 inch scar now from tripping over a very large chunk of air. Yup air. And whats really really sad about that, it wasn’t the first time the pesky chunks had tripped me up.

  22. Teresa says:

    This is one of the many reasons I love reading your blog, truthful and real to the point of pain. As usual, thanks for the laugh, as well as the knowledge that I am not the only one who “knows better” but does it anyway, and who is too hard headed to let anything stop me from the shit I gotta do!

  23. robin says:

    Another trick… Use vegetable oil as a ‘wash’ for the area. It dilutes the capsacian oil.

  24. Rebecca says:

    If you’d only been wearing your onion chopping goggles, this never would have happened. You should probably just wear them any time while cooking, just for safety’s sake.

  25. Alix Bouchard says:

    My ex boyfriend did that…. The private parts situation.. hah

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