How to Prevent Pepper Burn on Hands

If you love to cook and you love it spicy, I’m guessing you have had a few incidents of touching…something…with washed hands only to find that HOLY HELL IT STILL BURNS. So how do you prevent it? Gloves are the best option, but not everyone has a stash of latex gloves around the house.

Marche Jean-Talon Hot Peppers

Hot peppers at Marche Jean-Talon in Montreal

I do, but then again I color hair. Believe me, applying or even washing out blue Pravanna color without gloves will make it look like you did some unspeakable things to a Smurf, and the only way it’s coming off is when those skin cells get scrubbed off. Takes awhile.

So with no gloves to be found, how do you prevent pepper burn on your hands?

It’s ever so easy. Just coat your hands in oil before you touch the peppers, cut away, then wash your hands with soap and warm water.

Capsaicin (the compound that makes peppers burn) is hydrophobic, which means it is diametrically opposed to water, but it likes to get cozy with oil. With the oil coating your hands, the capsaicin will get trapped and wash away easily with soap and water.

To be safe, after that first wash, I usually give my hands one more rub with oil, and one more wash.

Good? Good. Go make something spicy.

What horrifying pepper hands incidents have you had?


  1. Susan says:

    If I coat my hands with oil, how will I keep from cutting my fingers off??

    • Natalie Webb says:

      Based on your history mom, the presence of oil won’t make a difference either way. If you’re using that pinching knife grip I showed you, you’ll be fine!