You should wear gloves while working with hot peppers—even though that seems like an awfully generous concession to make to a piece of produce you’re about to obliterate with your mouth hole—because if you don’t, you may start to notice a tingling in your fingertips. Aw, crap, you might think, realizing that removing your contact lenses later just became a lot dicier. Spicy cilantro cabbage slaw is not worth this kind of stress, you might think as the tingling sharpens into a harsh, searing sensation especially potent under your fingernails or when you apply pressure to the afflicted skin.
You should wear gloves while working with hot peppers because unless you’re Deadspin’s resident chili pepper expert, Tim Burke, for whom soap is apparently enough to soothe the burning, washing your hands will simply provide a temporary solution that probably has more to do with the temperature of the water than chemical properties of the soap. As your hands dry and thaw, the pain might return, even worse than before.
It’s not so silly anymore, and so you might start casting about for more targeted solutions. Milk, you might think, that’s what you’re supposed to drink when you’ve eaten something unbearably spicy. Unfortunately, anyone who doesn’t consume cereal on a daily basis is just contributing to food waste by keeping milk in the fridge so yogurt will have to do. Slathering your hands in cool yogurt provides instant relief but as soon as you rinse off, the same burning is back and now you’re sure it’s getting worse.
Google’s autofill will assure you that “burning after cutting hot peppers” is, if not normal, at least moderately common (as is, apparently, “burning after intercourse”) and the subject of many hotly debated home remedies. With increasing desperation, you might find yourself applying coconut oil, a baking soda and water paste, a baking soda and yogurt paste, not-nearly-diluted-enough bleach, and, in the absence of the recommended vodka, the rum that’s been in the freezer since before your moved into the apartment.
It’s possible that none of these will help much, and neither will marveling at the absurdity of the situation. You might want to remind yourself that capsaicin sensitivity is not a character flaw but, really, you should wear gloves when you’re chopping hot peppers lest you find yourself, having depleted the options available in your kitchen cabinet, running to the urgent care with a frozen bag of peas in hand.
Except, it’s closed on Saturday nights.
At this point, you’ve got nothing to lose by investing in WebMD’s previously rejected suggestion to spend an hour soaking your hands in vegetable oil and what do you know? After all that, it just might work. But this is purely anecdotal and you could have saved yourself a lot of trouble if you just wore gloves while chopping hot peppers. Even Burke recommends it.