All the Remedies that did NOT Cure my Jalapeno Hands

I learned a very valuable lesson that I will never, ever forget in my life, ever. Wear gloves when you deal with jalapenos or any hot pepper.

There I was, as ignorant as I could be, de-seeding jalapenos to make some jalapeno poppers. The music was going, Andrew and I were dancing as we were waiting for the rest of the meal to be cooked. I thought to myself, “These jalapenos are going to be good because I’m going to make sure I get every last seed out. That way, my mouth will not be on fire when I take a bite.”

I popped the poppers in the oven and within about 3 minutes, my left index finger and thumb started tingling. I got a little worried because I wasn’t sure what was going on. Before I knew it all of my fingers on my left hand and a few on my right hand were starting to get a burning sensation.

So, I did what any person who was experiencing a strange symptom and had no idea what it was coming from. I went to the all trusted Google. When I typed in my symptom, I got a bunch of sites with long threads discussing the bizarre burning pain. What I found was the burning sensation was due to the active ingredient in jalapenos called capsaicin. Capsaicin is what produces the “hot” in hot peppers (fire hot, by the way).

When capsaicin comes in contact with our skin it can cause serious burning reactions (like, your hand is literally on fire burning reactions). What’s even worse, people have gotten it in their eyes and on their genitals because they didn’t realize they had the ingredient on their hands. Yikes, I can’t even imagine how it would be if I got it in my eye or on my private area as a matter of fact.

By the time dinner was over (I ate one handed because my other hand was clenching a frozen bag of peas) my left hand was vigorously getting hot.

I went to Google again and looked for any kind of cure or remedy because the pain was becoming seriously intense. I’m surprised there weren’t flames coming out of my finger tips, they were so hot. Probably on a scale of 1-10, at its worst, 9.5. It stayed a consistent 7-9.5 the whole time.

I’ll give you a list (in order) of what I found online and tried to help cure my fire hot hands.

  1. I squeezed fresh lemon juice on my fingers. The pain went away for about 10 seconds and came back.
  2. I dunked my fingers in sour cream to cool them down. This helped for about the same amount of time as the first then came back.
  3. I poured whole milk over them. Relief for a maximum of 15 seconds.
  4. I let my hand run under hot water (which, let me tell you, was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done! I felt like my hand was being scorched and the pain shot up my arm), scrubbed with soap, rinsed then doused with olive oil. I repeated this 3 other times and it seemed like the pain came back 3 fold.
  5. I made a baking soda paste and covered my finger tips. This was the only thing I did out of all that actually seemed like it helped a little. But of course, the pain came back. I tried covering it with the baking soda paste 2 other times but it didn’t help.
  6. I made a scrub with sugar and olive oil and rubbed it on my finger tips. Ouch, it made it worse.
  7. I poured white vinegar over my hands. No relief, pain grew.
  8. I poured rubbing alcohol over my fingers. Again, no relief.
  9. I tried scrubbing my fingers again with hot water and still they were on fire.
  10. I dunked them in yogurt and tried to sit with my fingers in there but couldn’t handle more than 5 minutes because the pain was coming back with a vengeance.

By this time, my hands had been burning for about 2.5 hours. It was getting late and I was getting tired and frustrated.  I was starting to acknowledge that I was one of the unlucky, less fortunate ones to actually experience relief. I almost considered peeing on my hand to see if that would help but I decided against it. I accepted the fact that I was going to have to endure the pain until it went away…ugh.

It was miserable. My hands literally felt like they were on fire. My empathy goes out to any burn victim.

I ended up taking 2 tylenol (which I NEVER do) and bringing my trusted bag of peas with me in bed. Luckily, I was able to fall asleep holding the peas and slept uninterrupted the whole night. When I woke this morning, my fingers were back to normal.

The moral of the story is to always wear gloves when you are handling any type of hot pepper. It’s one of those mistakes you may experience once in your life (but hopefully not after reading this) but will make sure you never experience it again.

Also, some food for thought. If you skin is that sensitive and absorptive, think about all the chemicals and toxins your skin is absorbing when you apply conventional type lotions, sunscreens, deodorants, shampoos, fragrances, etc. Scary, huh? Check out this list of harmful ingredients that may be lurking in your personal care items.

Until next time,
Loriel – Healthy Roots, Happy Soul

photo credit

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  1. I had this same experience several years ago. You never consider just how dangerous it is to handle peppers bare handed. I tried every one of the solutions you tried with absolutely no relief. In the end, I went to bed near tears holding a bag of frozen blueberries. I thought it would never go away but when I woke up the next morning, there was blessed relief. These days, I always wear gloves when handling peppers. We also keep a jar of That Healing Feeling Balm in our kitchen for the immediate treatment of all burns and cuts. Unfortunately, we had no such product back then. Once you experience that kind of pain, you don’t make that mistake again.

  2. Hi Loriel, Thank you for creating this wonderful site. What I have to tell you based on personal experience with peppers may be of enormous help to a lot of people especially the ones who find your site in search of lower GI irritation, etc. It turns out that I cannot eat any plants from the nightshade family (peppers, bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, Gogi, paprika and other spices made from ground peppers), gooseberries, potatoes and tobacco. Nightshade plants (of the family Solenaceae) contain an alkaloid that is very irritating and is a colinesterase inhibitor. A subset of the population is extremely sensitive to this alkaloid. It is a poison and that is why the plant, Belladonna is a deadly poison because this particular nightshade contains a high amount of this alkaloid and others. (Note, Belladonna is a very poisonous nightshade that contains a more potent form of this alkaloid called Atropine which is used to dilate pupils). In my case, I knew from a young age that I could not eat green bel peppers. It turns out that green bell peppers contain a very large amount of the irritating alkaloid. I assumed I was allergic to bell peppers but a serum IgG test came out negative (i will share my hypothesis about that later). Whenever I ate bell peppers I would get heartburn, burping, gas, constipation and sometimes diarrhea for days. I avoided bell peppers for 30 years but had no idea about the nightshade family. In my 40s, I started getting episodes of what I thought was the stomach flu or food poisoning. I would have diarrhea for a couple of days and my joints would hurt , especially my knees but I never had a fever and nobody in my family got it. I was tested for all kinds of food allergies and all were negative.
    Then, one day, I made myself a raw tomato soup in the Vitamix and became violently ill for days with severe joint pain. By chance, a while later I started reading books on arthritis because I thought I was developing arthritis (and also irritable bowel disease). The book that changed my life was “Pain Free In Six Weeks” by Dr. Sherry Rogers. This book changed and saved my life. Over the years, I had developed an intolerance for all nightshade plants. The cooking of these veggies and also the exact variety of potato or tomato and how aged it is, etc. plays a role in how much alkaloid is in it so that makes it difficult to diagnose (i.e. one can eat potatoes one day and not have obvious symptoms and then another day eat older potatoes that maybe were not cooked as long or whatever and have a severe reaction). Raw tomatoes were the worst for me whereas cooked tomato sauce did not cause as many symptoms. Now, I can’t have even a tiny bit of tomato sauce or paprika, etc. or I get diarrhea and knee pain. The GI inflammation releases various cytokines and other inflammatory hormones into the body such that people get joint pain when they eat nightshades. This is well documented by thousands of people– Thank God for the internet (for giving us access to info).
    It makes no obvious sense that such tiny amounts of nightshades now give me such severe GI inflammation. The only explanation for that is that I am now allergic to all these veggies as that is the only way to explain how a small amount could cause a cascading reaction (The amount of the alkaloid in a bit of ketsup can’t possibly account for my symptoms unless the decades of irritation from the alkaloid in these foods has caused my body to develop antibodies to various proteins in these foods or antibodies to the specific alkaloid (which is a protein too)). I have accidentally tested my nightshade sensitivities many times. Once, I had commercial butternut squash ravioli for dinner and woke up the next day barely able to get down the stairs because of knee pain. I retrieved the packaging from the trash and read that the product contained tomato powder. Before I figured out my nightshade problem, the diarrhea was ruining my GI tract. I think nightshade sensitivity should be explored by anyone having GI irritation, hemorrhoid/fissure problems, joint pain, headaches, etc. Eating these foods, even if they only irritate you in a mild way can lead to problems because even mild inflammation, if chronic can ruin your health. For example, it is speculated that rheumatoid arthritis could be caused in some people by chronic, preventible joint irritation that statistically ups the chances of making autoantibodies to joint proteins.
    Sorry for this long post but as I said, nightshades are a problem and western doctors refuse to read up on this and discuss it with patients. I was on my way to being put on steroids and other pills for irritable bowel syndrome and my problems disappeared overnight after I read Sherry’s book and eliminated all these foods from my diet. Changed my life.

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