I had an unfortunate incident a couple of weeks ago, one that kept getting worse before it finally got better…jalapeño burn. It’s the old “I’ve never had a problem before with handling jalapeño peppers” so I had concluded that this type of hot pepper isn’t dangerous to touch. Even tasting them raw, they seemed pretty bland. However, HOWEVER, beware of the evil seeds that lurk within! As I cut out the ribs and seeds of the pepper, I used my fingers to separate the seeds for disposal.
A burn started a while later, intensified by my stupid action of touching my face. I washed off in cold water, held a cold, wet paper towel to my upper lip and nose…it only got worse. I finally realized that this was serious enough that I needed to warn my husband that his worst anxiety was coming true…dinner was going to be late. Holding my face, I went upstairs to where Jay was working and explained it to him. Apparently he didn’t completely understand, “So when is dinner going to be ready?”
Now we have two jalapeño burn victims. No, I didn’t really follow through on my immediate impulse to cover Jay with jalapeño seeds. Instead I just gave him “the look” and said I was handicapped. Not being one to miss a meal, my husband finished making the chili while I Googled “How to treat jalapeño burn”.
The first response I read was to apply a high fat dairy product to the burns to break down the capsaicin or chili oil which was now worming its way into my very core. Sour cream provided more relief than the aloe burn cream had. Of course, now I looked ridiculous with sour cream on my face and finger tips. Kelsey and her boyfriend Kyle found great delight in my appearance, but were forbidden from posting a picture of me on Facebook. The burning sensation found temporary relief with the sour cream, rubbing alcohol and caladryl, but then the pain would return.
Remedies found online seemed to favor anything acidic to cut the chili oil. Urine is obviously the more famous solution, but I didn’t feel that was necessary. Other antidotes people swore by were lemons, limes, tomatoes, catsup, Mylanta and Afterbite Stick. I thought of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the father’s solution of Windex for every ailment. He wouldn’t have been far off in this case since ammonia is a remedy also.
The main thing to remember is that the remedies have to be reapplied several times and don’t touch your skin. The continuous warning I came across in my research was don’t try to remove contact lenses and men shouldn’t use the bathroom until the burning sensation is long gone. I discovered that even though my fingertips were covered in dried sour cream and feeling better, if I forgot and touched my face, the burn just kept on giving.
My family’s sympathy during dinner as I held a bag of ice against my sour cream covered burns was offset by their amusement with my white half of a moustache. My face recovered first, but my fingers took longer; I guess because they actually touched the seeds. I took Ibuprofen and went to bed holding a baggie of ice between my hands.
Of course, the moral of the story is to wear protective gear whenever handling hot peppers, even the wimpier jalapeños. Point taken.