My kitchen taught me something invaluable and what a cruel way to do so.
I cut and sliced some 200gms of Red Chilies last evening and suddenly all hell broke loose. I didn’t think that these chilies were spicy. Though I used kitchen scissors, I slit them first, seeded and sliced them for making chili pickle. I had used these chilies some time back to make chili cheese poppers, but it hadn’t harmed me then.
Little did I know that these weren’t the non-spicy kind. As I was slicing them, the kitchen air started getting a bit pungent. My nose and throat started getting irritated (probably the fumes) and I may have brushed my face, definitely my nose, ears, lips and chin in the process. Maybe the tadka of pickle masala made it worse.
What started as mildly irritating sensation turned into a full-fledged burn, I could feel my fingers throbbing with pain and hot burn. I spent the next few hours with a scrunched up face, irritated (Can-hire-me-as-a-gratis-assasin) mood and nursed my poor fingers. Plunging them in ice-cold water helped, but for a bit only. Once the water returned to room temperature, the burns returned as if they were wedded to my fingers. 😦
My good friend, Google threw some tips and some real friends on Twitter (@me_manishk, @saurabh, @madversity, @petitejanhavi, @ankitrajdesai, @Bsatyaki, @appocalypseBoy, @Kishnani_T) suggested remedies – toothpaste, vanilla ice-cream, milk, aloe vera gel, lacto calamine, rose water, coconut oil and any moisturiser/cream.
Here’s my verdict and some lessons learnt along the way, I am sharing this here with you in case you run into similar issues at home.
- I use toothpaste with clove essence, and I am sure most of us have moved on to Gel-toothpastes. This doesn’t help. Keep a tube of any white toothpaste (Colgate or Babool), apply this first and then wash vigorously with water.
Tip: @saurabh, a professional event organiser shared this: "So when at events, someone gets a burn from welding or lights, we keep a tube of toothpaste handy."
- Ice-cream or cold milk: This seems to work. Though I couldn’t try the ice-cream tip, I consumed a glass of cold milk, this soothed the throat and kind of helped the mood. Eating ice-cream if you have bitten into a chili helps. Capsacain (the active component of chili pepper, an irritant that causes burning sensation in mammals) sticks to the taste buds and throat, so eating any dairy product – preferably yogurt, ice-cream, cold milk, etc. will help you ease the burn.
- Coconut oil: This works for ingestion as well as topical application. A small dose of edible coconut oil or olive oil works the same way as dairy product to ease throat burn. Topical application if the burn area is small/defined works when you rub the oil into it. However in my case, I had my entire hands covered almost till my elbows and most part of my face, applying coconut oil didn’t cause any big change.
- Aloe Vera Gel: This saved my life. The cool gel could easily slide between the fingers where the burn was the maximum. Applying aloe vera over my face, ears and throat soothed the skin and controlled the burn.
I didn’t have a chance to find out how Lacto Calamine or rose water worked.
How to stop the Chili burn
In a nutshell, this is what I would recommend in case of a burn while cutting chilies:
Splash lots of water on the agitated (burning) skin, probably a bath would help clean it better. Plunge the area in a bowl filled with ice cubes/cold water. Keep it immersed until you feel the burning sensation subsiding. Drink a glass of cold milk. Apply Aloe vera gel liberally, this helps control the pain too. Reapply if you find that the gel has absorbed into the skin. Rest in a cool room, you need to sleep the pain off.
My podgy fingers and irritated skin took about 8 hours to overcome the burning sensation. Though there is not visible inflammation around my fingers, the fingernail beds still feel sensitive, a little sore too. I am still not feeling 100% well, maybe it is psychosomatic.
My protip: Wear gloves while handling chilies/peppers, irrespective of how hot or not the pepper is.
This should save you all the trouble.
And if you are wondering what caused this tirade, here it is:
This is the culprit who caused me podgy fingers last night, now sitting solemnly in a pickle jar. #redhotchillipeppers #mirchilagi