Peppers contain a substance called capsaicin that gives them that hot sensation when exposed to thin membranes such as in the mouth, eyes, nose, and open wounds on the body. The amount of capsaicin determines the “hotness” of the pepper. Bell peppers are on the low end, while habanero peppers are on the high end.
Research shows that capsaicin, despite its fiery reputation can reduce inflammation. There are now over the counter pain relief products that contain capsaicin, mostly topical applications. The capsaicin creates a mild burning sensation on the skin, resulting in a counter-irritant effect that may temporarily relieve muscle pain.
Some people may apply too much of the product on their skin and suffer from a very uncomfortable burning area on their body that doesn’t go away with soap and water. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some suggestions:
1. Rub coconut oil over the area. You can buy virgin coconut oil in most health food stores. It is even better if it is in a solidified state (below melting temperature).
2. If it is a case where you ate a pepper, don’t try to wash it out with icewater; instead, gargle whole milk for 30 seconds; spit out. Repeat three times.
You can experiment with other types of fats such as olive oil, lard, and butter.
Before handling very hot peppers in preparation for cooking (especially if you are going to slice them and expose the capsaicin) coat your hands in olive oil.
By all means, do not touch the eyes and nose during the handling, and even several minutes after you’ve handled very hot peppers and washed your hands, just in case.