Skip to main content

My allergic reaction to jalapeños

****** If you are having an intense burning from cutting jalapeños and found this blog on the web, scroll to the bottom.  I have labeled what you need to do!!!

It was Saturday afternoon. I had a wonderfully planned party at my house for 6pm. I diligently cleaned all day. I had let my house go, so a deep clean was in order. I was saving all my cooking for the last hour of the party so everything would be warm. It was 5pm and I was ready to cook. Being 6 months pregnant, the breaking back work of cleaning had almost done me in, but it was worth it. The house looked great. I planned to make a few dishes, but my star dish was 'Jalapeno Poppers'. I had them in restaurants in the past, but never made them. I got the recipe off a Facebook page. She hand typed it (no blog or star winning website) so it was simple instructions.

I destemmed, cut them length wise and deseeded 15-20 jalapenos. Followed the rest of the instructions and into the oven they went. I decided to shower while they baked. As I was showering, my hands started to, ever so slightly, burn. I knew it was from the jalapenos. I washed [carefully] as normal, cause I noticed that whatever I touched burned, too, ie... my face, neck, scalp.

I got ready. Poppers were done and looked delicious. Guest started to arrive at 6pm. Throughout the evening I noticed, and even commented often, that my hands burned. It would come and go but nothing I couldn't handle. The last guest left at close to midnight. My hands were a little more on fire and I wasn't feeling sleepy (although my body was completely exhausted from cleaning all day and then hosting all night). It could have been a combo of my hands burning and just a long fun night, making it hard to unwind.

My husband agreed to sit with me and watch one of our favorite shows and then head to bed. Halfway through the show my hands went from a heated 6 to a 12, on a scale. Completely doubling in pain. It took me by surprise and I started to panic. Husband got on the internet and we quickly found I wasn't alone and many remedies were listed. I never thought for a minute that I was in any sort of trouble. I believe in home remedies and just knew something would work.

From the coarse of mid-midnight till 6am I went past my high level of pain tolerance. I screamed and cried. I yelled. I shook my hands uncontrollably. Needless to say... I lost it. The only way to descriptively explain the pain is fire. Have you ever gone camping and sat next to a roaring fire? As you noticed, you may have gotten too close, because your skin starts to heat up and you feel terribly hot. My hands had surpassed that. My hands felt like they were buried in the burning coals of the hottest of fires and I could not get them out.

Through the night my hands were soaked in:
ice water
hot water and soap
pulverize Tums in water
sour cream
ranch dressing
tomato paste
calamine lotion
bug sting relief-ammonia
hydrogen peroxide
aloe burn relief spray
lemon juice
lime juice
baking soda
medical astringent
facial astringent
poison ivy remover
make up remover
red wine
sugar/oil mixture
Essential oils of all kinds

My husband had to drive to an all night CVS, twice! Close to about 5am, I was very, very exhausted. My eyes were red and almost swollen shut from crying. My body was worn thin from, first, the day of cleaning and parting, but also the night of up and down torment of the pain. What seemed to be the only relief was temperature change. It had to be rapid, though. We notice that when my hands heated up and I put them in anything cold, I got instant relief. But when the cold product started to get to room temperature the pain was immediately back. I remember for a solid hour of just holding and squeezing ice. It was when I had my hands soaking in ice cold milk that I felt the tips of my fingers start to damage. But, the cold was a double edged sword. It gave relief, but removal from the cold the pain intensified worse than letting them air dry and enduring 'dry' pain.

At 6am I made the final call to head to the ER. I was running my hand at the sink and saw a knife. I had thought so taking the knife and scrapping a layer of skin off my hand. I then knew it was time to go get medical help. Unfortunately, I also knew the ER was full of nonsense and people riding out their Medicaid. I worked in one for years. I know all about sitting there for hours. This is how bad I needed the pain to just.... STOP. We had to wake all five of our children, load them in the car and speed down to Lexington Medical Center. I was without anything cold, cause I didn't want to spill it in my lap. My hands were useless and could hold or do anything with them. I had to endure the pain at its full capacity for a car ride that seemed to go on forever.

When we got to the ER, the only thing that got me back immediately was being pregnant. But unfortunately, as you'll learn later, it was also the pregnancy that caused me to not have any medication. They put me in a room. Randy had to stay in the van with all the sleepy kids. I didn't want them in hospital.

I sat in the back room for an hour, by myself. I learned a lot about myself. It's almost too hard to explain. I started to hyperventilate from breathing so fast. I had to talk myself into not passing out. I did little pep talks that this would not be forever. Someone would come. I prayed. A lot! I talked to my mom up in heaven. I even started just counting. I chanted words of encouragement over and over. Anything to busy my mind. There was sink in the room. I wanted to run them under the water so bad. I also had to pee very bad. I knew I wouldn't be able to stand by the sink, while having to 'go'. Also, the cold scared me because of the intense pain it gave when I knew I had to remove them.

*****A male nurse came in and gave me the preliminaries. He was okay. Then 30 minutes later the entrance of the long awaited doctor came in. His name was Paul Shahbahrami. I want his name to circulate. As he walked in I was right in the middle of a sobbing, bawling fit. My nose was running and couldn't hold any tissue to wipe, so I just rubbed from side so side on my gown. My hair was stuck to my face with my tears but, again, couldn't do anything because I my hands. He sat and asked what happened. I gave my story. He started tapping my wrist and said to me “Sometimes pregnant woman have pain from carpel tunnel!” I was so angry. I became enraged. Did he not hear me? He looked at my hands, next. Ironically, my hand looked completely normal. While they felt like they should have been bright fire red, shooting flames and cartoon-type throbbing, they were just peachy and actually kinda soft from the 6 hour manicure of a various products. Next, you just can't imagine what happened. The doctor looked straight at me. I was hanging on his every word, just waiting for his perfect recommendation. He...laughed. A great big chuckle. Like I had just told the funniest joke of the day. He put his hand over his mouth, looked down from embarrassment from his behavior and said “....Ah-hem...I'm sorry...I don't mean to laugh...” I'm sorry, but I wasn't intending to be a sideshow that night and that is exactly how he made me feel. He did some more minimal examining. Asked how far along I was and then.....laughed right in my face, AGAIN. No apology followed this time. He told me with being pregnant that I could have small amount of Lidocain jelly mumbled some other stuff and walked out. I was devastated. I came completely unglued. He broke me. I can't imagine how I must have looked from a fly on the wall as I sat there, alone, and heard that news AND was laughed at.

Right in the middle of my dumbfounded behavior, the registration lady came in and just looked at me. I said “He laughed. He laughed at me.” I told her my story, in a nut shell and she felt horrible for me. She was the first and only deeply concerned person I came into contact with that night. The original male nurse, came back in with the Lidocain Jelly and squeezed what looked like ½ teaspoon on the palm of my hand and walked out. The pain was in my fingers, so by the time I rubbed up my hand, it ran thin. I grabbed that jelly off the counter and squeezed the whole tube in my hands. It felt so good. The pain when from a 50 to a 30. Much improvement. It still hurt. But that's it. Hurt. Like I smashed all my fingers in a door. Not like they were set on fire and my skin was melting to the bone. The nurse came in and saw I used more and took it from me and said I couldn't have anymore. He also told me that it was standard to take a fetal heart rate. I lifted my shirt (hey, I could use my hands!) and laid there. He stood right over me and said “Now....where do “they” usually find the heartbeat?” I looked right at him and said “MY STOMACH!”

I arrived home around 9am. My hands were ever so slightly burning and they had a thick layer of clear shine from the jelly. I wasn't home for more than 20 minuets when the pain intensified and I was headed down a familiar road. My precious and sweet children saw me crying and trying to blow my fingers at the same time. They ran to make the most amazing paper fans. All of them standing over me fanning my hands. They started to tape fans together and make giant fans to cover more surface. Wind! Air! It was amazing. What an amazing discovery. Husband found a fan in the garage. It was broken. He fixed it while the children's tired arms fanned. They went in shifts. Finally, I draped my hands over the couch 2 inches from a fan and felt the cool air blow away the pain. It was tolerable and I was finally, after 15 hours.....content. I [finally] took a nap. I think I slept about 3 hours. I was golden! My hands and especially fingers were tender and I couldn't squeeze anything too long or they would get hot. But other than that, I was excited to be cured... or so I thought.

I wanted to wash the traumatizing experience off of me. I decided to shower. When I got out, my hands started to tingle...then burn...then go back to being on fire. It wasn't like before but you can imagine my panic mode? Husband got some hospital grade lidocain spray and sprayed my hands. I laid in bed with my arms draped over the side and the wonderful fan blowing right on them. Score!

It is 10am on Monday morning and this experience has now lasted 65 hours. Just to give you and indication of how intense these peppers are. Now some people can touch them with no problems at all. After some heavy reading, I do believe that I had an allergic reaction to them. Even now, days later, as I type my fingers are still sensitive, tingle. My fingers are swollen with puffy knuckles and I won't be getting my wedding rings back on today.

I have written this long description of my experience out and plan on blogging it to get the awareness out about the results of cutting jalapenos without gloves. Also, I plan on mailing this letter along with a many phone calls about my experience with the ER and the very bad bedside manner of a doctor. I found out in my heavy reading that poison control recommends washing hands in very, VERY hot water. Hot as you can stand without burning yourself. I had tried this in the beginning and it intensified the pain and I stopped. Now I have found out that the capsaicin oil in the pepper, which causes the hot, was trapped in my pores. Hot water opens the skin pores. While it is painful for about 10 minutes, the capsaicin will drain from the skin giving instant relief. Now!!! Why didn't my ER Dr take 20 minutes to find this, like I did? Lord knows, I sat long enough in that room for him to write a book. He could have taken the time to find a remedy, but he SHOULD have taken the time to be more compassionate and understanding.

****** The web has many remedies listed for relieving the pain from hot peppers.  A fatty milk based product like milk, sour cream or yogurt seems to be the most popular.  My reaction was so great that, that did not help.  Poison Control recommends washing hands in very, VERY hot water. Hot as you can stand without burning yourself. I had tried this in the beginning and it intensified the pain and I stopped.  I have discovered that the capsaicin oil in the pepper, which causes the hot, was trapped in my pores. Hot water opens the skin pores. While it is VERY painful for about 10-20 minutes, the capsaicin will drain from the skin, giving instant relief.  Good Luck to you.  If you are not pregnant you can go to the ER for pain relieving narcotics.*******


  1. You nailed all of my er experiences on the head I'll never understand why they are such jerks and you leave with no answer's every time and one big question why did they treat me like I'm crazy ...

  2. I think back on this experience often and really wished I have given that dr. a piece of my mind. Thanks for understanding! Haven't touched a jalapeño since LOL

  3. Thanks for sharing. I found your blog is google search as I've been having a similar experience tonight (sans rude doctors). Every time it starts to subside, it comes back again. Due to allergy season, I must have touched my eyes or something, because that's where it's worst. I can't see and have been sitting with a cold compress on my eyes for about six hours. But the rest of my skin just seems to keep spreading and getting worse. There's no end to it.

  4. Hoping you found some relief! :( A hot shower would be my suggestion! Best of luck!

  5. Fortunately my reaction was not as severe but still painful and I can't put my contacts in my eyes without excruciating pain. Glad to know what causes it and will wear gloves from now on or do without jalapeño peppers.

  6. Right now my fingers are burning and I'm afraid to touch my face or anything else and I wore gloves. Jalapeños also make me sneeze and they irritate my throat so that I start coughing. I only make one dish that I can't get away without using them, chili Verde. My sig other is Mexican and thinks I'm a big baby. I just sent him the Google search with the info on this. Thanks for the blog and thanks for sharing.

  7. Right now my fingers are burning and I'm afraid to touch my face or anything else and I wore gloves. Jalapeños also make me sneeze and they irritate my throat so that I start coughing. I only make one dish that I can't get away without using them, chili Verde. My sig other is Mexican and thinks I'm a big baby. I just sent him the Google search with the info on this. Thanks for the blog and thanks for sharing.

  8. You are NOT a big baby! This experience will always be in my top 10 worst and most horrific experiences! After having 6 babies drug free, I can tolerate pain. This was no joke!! I hope you were able to find relief. Maybe thicker gloves? I've started buying them in the jar.

  9. Thank you so very much for your post! I only had to endure about an hour of pain before I found you 🙂 I immediately washed my hands in hot water with dish soap for about 3 minutes. INSTANT RELIEF! A million thanks

  10. This makes my heart sing! I'm so glad I was able to help. The only reason I made this post was to help others not go through what I did! I'm glad you're better!!!! :)

  11. I had the same experience with cutting raw jalapeños! It lasted about 24 of the most miserable hours of my life!! Under my fingernails was the absolute worst!! I later had an allergic reaction to eating raw jalapeños. My throats was irritated for about a week. I can eat cooked jalapeños with no problems but I have learned to stay away from them in raw form!! I am sorry for the pain you had to endure but know you are. It alone in this experience!!

  12. Thank you so much. It was a horrific experience. I too can only eat the jar jalapeños with no problems. Those are what I use now for sauces and nachos :)

  13. I am having this reaction just tonight and googled it and found this! Thanks for posting.. still burning after scrubbing with Dawn and super hot water but not near as bad!!

  14. I found this blog after a Google search. I forced myself to keep mine hands in warm water for 10 seconds every time but I could not handle the burning feeling. I eventually did fall asleep with a bag of ice cubes in mine hands and taken some heavy painkillers that I still had left from mine c section. Now it's 24 hrs later mine fingers are still sensitive but they don't burn anymore.

  15. This blog has saved me from having a panic attack. I seriously am freaked out over this burning pain in my hand. I’ve googled everything and all I ended up with is death sentences. I finally put in jalopeno allergy and this came up. I cut raw jalapeños today and it started under my ring finger and here I am 7 hours later awaken from my sleep in intense pain and fear. This article has made me feel so much better about my fate. lol! I’m currently soaking it in a death bath. Hoping for relief soon. Thank you so much for sharing.

  16. Having no problems with my hands but my face started burning even though I was positive I had not gotten any of the jalapeno juice on myself. Started on the side of my nose and then spread to above my lip and then the actual lips. I rinsed off with cool water so I must have spread it around and then my cheek and forehead started to burn. I know I hadn't touched my forehead! I washed with soap and applied ice with no relief. The odd thing is that when I licked my lips I could taste the jalapeno and then my tongue started burning. The sugar water helped with the tongue but why was I even able to taste it since it couldn't have been more than an infinitesimal amount of juice that zinged to my face while cutting the peppers because I certainly didn't feel it happen. The hot water helped a tiny bit although it was extremely painful to do but right now I'm sitting with the fan blowing on my face and my lips are still burning although the nose and cheek feel better. Afraid to turn off the fan for fear the burning will start up again! Okay, couple minutes with the fan and although it still hurt at first it has surprisingly started to feel normal again. Keeping my fingers crossed that the pain doesn't come back again. Was cooking onion, bell peppers, and one jalapeno (which I've done before with no issues) to go into a cheesy corn dip...maybe I'll just go throw those away instead.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Snickers Smoothie

ONE WORD.... Snickers!  Yep!  Makes your mouth and mind BUZZZZZZZZ ! This recipe was graciously shared to me by a trim healthy mama.  I am always skeptical when something says 'healthy' and has a name brand tagged on it.  Like brownies made with cottage cheese.  Or how about 'Doritos' kale chips!  C+C Music Factory comes to mind with "Things that make you go hmmmmmm!"   BUT................. This really has a Snickers-ish flare to it.  And- I love it.   Go all out on your extract.  I have friends that get theirs at Walmart, but quality verses quantity wins me over.  You usually have to use more of the cheap stuff to get that punch of flavor.  My favorite is Bakto .  The other spotlight in this Snickers Shake is Glucomannan.  You can read its wonderful qualities  here. Snickers Smoothie Into your favorite blender add the following:  1 cup of Unsweetened Almond milk (or if you're in heavy weight loss mode, 1/2 cup of almond milk

NO BAKE....Pumpkin Bites {S}

I had a small amount of canned pumpkin left in my frig and created these on a whim. Not to build them up too much, but they remind me of those donut holes you buy in a box. I'm gonna steal the THM saying and say... Own It!! Make this your own. I just made these on the fly, but you can certainly put whatever spin you want on them! I love how the sisters encourage us to be our own chefs! Get creative & Make it work  NO BAKE....Pumpkin Bites {S}: 1 c baking b lend (homemade or THM brand) 1/2 c pure can pumpkin 1 tsp vanilla Splash caramel extract *optional, if you don't have it's okay* Pinch of salt 1 Tb almond butter 1/2-1 Tb pumpkin pie spice, depending how spicy you like it 1 Tb coconut oil Sweetener *the amount is gonna be questionable. There are so many different kinds out there. I make my own which probably can be compared to the Gentle Sweet. I did about 1/3 cup but dumped more in making it like 1/2 cup...BUT...I like super duper sweet stuff. Just taste as yo

From Flab to Fit

From Flab to Fit

Get Your Belly Back After Baby

Get Your Belly Back After Baby