Fresh chile peppers add heat and flavor to many of our favorite Latin dishes. The tongue-tingling fieriness we associate with chiles comes from a compound known as capsaicin, which unfortunately can also irritate the skin and create an unpleasant burning sensation. Follow these tips for the safe handling of hot peppers.
- Wear rubber gloves when seeding and chopping chile peppers, particularly if you’re using hotter varieties of chiles such as habaneros.
- If you forgo the gloves, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling the peppers.
- Do not rub your eyes, put your fingers in your mouth, or touch other sensitive areas immediately after handling chiles.
- If you skipped the advice about wearing rubber gloves and now your skin is on fire, try submerging your hands in milk or plain yogurt for a few minutes or applying alcohol or vegetable oil. These items help neutralize the capsaicin in the chiles and bring relief.