If you are a sucker for spicy food, chances are that you enjoy making some of your meals with the all-popular jalapeno pepper. Unfortunately, as spicy as it is, the minute the jalapeno juice gets into your eyes it can leave you with excruciating pain and irritation.
This happens because pepper contains capsaicin which binds with pain receptors creating a burning sensation.
Now, theoretically, the best way to get rid of capsaicin from sensitive parts of your body would be by cleaning the area with clean water. But here’s the problem – capsaicin is an oily liquid and, therefore, using water on it is similar to trying to extinguish a gasoline fire using stream water, it only spreads the problem further.
So, what’s the best way to manage the situation at home?
Disclaimer: Though this writer is an avid researcher, he is not a medical doctor. This article does not constitute medical advice. Contact a licensed doctor for professional help as early as possible.
Tears to the Rescue, Blink Rapidly to Remove Jalapeno Juice
So, why do you need to blink rapidly when pepper juice gets into your eyes? Well, doing this stimulates the production of tears which can in turn help soothe the burn.
Your own tears are probably the safest readily available eye remedy for the burning sensation caused by this Chilean pepper’s juices.
So, stop what you were doing, take a rest and blink severally. It’s that simple.
After all, tears are the eye’s natural way to maintain a healthy ocular surface microenvironment .
You can also make use of artificial tears if you are having challenges tearing up. “Commercial saline solutions and eyewash are preferred for cleaning up the eyes as they are produced in sterile conditions and are free from infectious bugs,” All About Vision, a popular eye health website, reports.
If only small quantities of the juice landed on your eyes, doing this can resolve the problem over time.
Use Baby Shampoo, With Precaution
The use of baby shampoo can help thanks to the fact that baby products are generally gentle. However, it is worth keeping in mind that even the gentlest of all shampoo products are not meant for the eye and should be used sparingly.
Baby shampoo works by breaking down oil. And since the jalapeno juice is oil-based, it goes without saying that the use of baby shampoo can help stop the burning sensation inside your eyes.
That said, commercial shampoos and generally all kinds of shampoos with harsh ingredients like parabens and sodium laureth sulfate should never come into contact with your eyes.
Only shampoos with eye-safe ingredients like PEG-80 sorbitan laurate should be considered for this kind of use .
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How to Use Baby Shampoo to Get Rid of Jalapeno Juice in the Eye
Step One: Clean your hands thoroughly using dish soap. You want to be as thorough as possible so you don’t end up touching your eyes with any capsaicin that might be on your hands. Once done, wipe your hands with a dry towel.
Step Two: Put a few drops of baby shampoo on a clean cloth and apply it gently to the affected eye. Be careful not to touch the section that will come in contact with your eyes with your hands.
Step Three: Flush your eyes with clean water to clean out the shampoo. For those with ultra-sensitive eyes, sterile water might be a safer alternative.
Use Cow Milk, With Precautions
Cow milk is probably the most effective way to neutralize jalapeno juice in the eyes or skin. However, no matter how you boil or preserve it, you cannot keep it 100% bacteria-free. Eyes are warm and moist meaning they can easily provide a fertile breeding ground for bacteria .
So, it’s important to use milk with extreme caution. For instance, you should avoid milk that has expired or is too close to its expiry date. Also, it might be a good idea to use a saline solution to cleanse your eyes immediately after applying milk on them to flush out any opportunistic bacteria that might be left in there.
Milk contains a protein called casein which is known to bind with capsaicin molecules thereby reducing their burning effect and making them easier to flush off the eyes. Casein is found in all dairy products including ice cream and this is why some culinary experts often recommend ice cream as an alternative to milk in neutralizing the effects of pepper on the skin.
Other than binding with capsaicin, milk is also slightly acidic (pH 6.5 to 6.7) and, therefore, can mildly neutralize pepper juice which is alkaline in nature.
How to Use Milk to Remove Jalapeno Pepper from Eye
Step One: Clean your hands thoroughly using dish soap. This will help you get rid of any pepper juice that might have come into contact with your hands.
Step Two: Put some milk on clean cotton wool (enough to make it soaking wet) and place it against your open eye. Gently squeeze it as you move your eyeball all around to allow the milk to spread throughout your eye.
Step Three: Once you’re done applying the milk to your eyes, close them gently for at least 60 seconds. This is to give the milk time to fully bind with the capsaicin molecules in your eyes.
Step Four: Hopefully the burning sensation will fade away on its own once you apply the milk but if it persists add some more milk and give it some more time (at least 60 more seconds).
Step Five: Clean your eyes using clean water. You might want to avoid tap water if you have a history of persistent bacterial infections in your eyes. Sterile water might be better in that case or any other cleanser your ophthalmologist might recommend.
Step Six: As milk contains bacteria, it might be a good idea to cleanse your eyes further using saline water. Saline water has antibacterial properties.
Observe how your eyes respond over the next 5 to 10 hours. Call your doctor immediately you notice:
- The pain or burning sensation is not going away
- Persistent sensitivity to light
- An unusual discharge persistently coming from the eye
- Any other worrying symptoms
Jalapeno juice burns are usually minor but should the pain persist for 5 to 10 hours, you should immediately see a doctor.
Remember, remedies like milk and shampoo should always be used with precaution and avoided if your doctor recommends so.
To prevent Jalapeno juice from getting in the eye, always wear protective eyewear and gloves when handling the fruit. Yup, peppers are fruits, not vegetables!