Sure, many of us crave hot peppers and hot sauce, but unfortunately sometimes as with any reward comes a potential risk. We’re not talking about the mouth-scorching reaction of a hot pepper or hot sauce touching your lips, but sometimes just the simple risk of a hot product touching your skin! You don’t have to even cook with the pepper to feel the burn. Sometimes the pain comes just from the simple act of making physical contact with a hot pepper.
That burn is tied to a pepper’s capsaicin. While it can help in certain topical medications to treat health issues such as sore muscles, shingles and arthritis, the spicy oil of a hot pepper can also sometimes seriously irritate your skin. The pain gets even more unbearable if you accidently rub your eye, often resulting in intense redness and pain. The higher the pepper on the Scoville scale, the higher the likelihood you could experience some genuine pain or irritation from the pepper or pepper product. No matter the pepper, though, the highest concentration of capsaicin comes from the pepper’s membrane.
If you accidentally do get pepper oil on your skin and feel the pain, try running your irritated skin under water or use a cool compress. Of course, the best way to avoid “burning” your skin from a hot pepper or a hot sauce is to wear either plastic disposable gloves or rubber gloves, avoiding touching the pepper product altogether. This is especially important when handing a nearly off-the-scale pepper puree. Once you’re finished, make sure you thoroughly wash your hands and fingernails with soap and warm water, too. Choosing soap with a grease cutter, like a dishwashing liquid, is said to be even better. It’s also a good idea to thoroughly wash everything else that’s come in contact with the hot pepper product, including cutting boards and knives.