KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, October 29, 2007

Anecdotal Evidence Regarding the Persistence of Capsaicin

Dangerous to delicate membranes
I can confirm that it is a very bad idea to touch delicate bodily membranes, such as those contained in human eyes and noses, within 24 hours of dicing jalapenos or chili peppers of any kind.
Dangerous to delicate membranes
I ordered some chili peppers with the last batch of groceries, wanting to include small bits of them in my daily huge plate of salad. They're quite tasty additions. But know that even two surgical-style scrubbings of the hands after chopping chili peppers does not completely erase the capsaicin, the "heat"-producing substance in them, from the fingers. And know that until the capsaicin dissipates a couple of days later, you should touch neither the caruncula lachrymalis nor the nostrils.



Dick Margulis said...

Been there, done that. But there's no lasting harm.

I asked at the supermarket if they sold food handling gloves (the throwaway polyethylene ones they use in the deli, at the fish counter, etc.). The produce manager told me they had tried once but discontinued them as a product; however, he gladly fetched me a handful from the deli. No charge. Very handy when you're working with chiles [the spelling aficionados prefer for the actual fruits, reserving "chili" for the cooked stew] of any kind, but a real necessity if you ever have occasion to handle the really hot ones, like Scotch Bonnets and Habaneros. For Jalapenos and Serranos, I don't bother anymore.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

No, no lasting harm done. But it did occur to me that capsaicin might be a valuable addition to over-the-counter meds made for clearing the sinuses. It really did clear out my head.

Stephanie E. said...

Eek. I don't go near jalapeƱos. Most of the time, I choose not to eat anything with even small amounts of them in it. This is possibly a long-lasting effect of the time, when I was very small, that my dad thought it would be funny to allow me to think a jalapeƱo pepper was a pickle. Moments after chomping down on a giant bite, I was up out of my seat, jumping up and down and waving my arms around. I was in too much pain, my dad was laughing too hard, and my mom was too mad at him for any of us to be embarrassed at the scene I was causing in the restaurant. :)

Anonymous said...

This is why my husband always gets the chore of mincing chiles. He doesn't wear contacts; I do.

If you want to really hurt your eyes, try toothpaste.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Ow. I've never tried toothpaste in the eye.

But I have tried Wite-Out correction fluid, by accident. Back in my office-cubicle days, when typewriters were still in use, I kept a bottle of Visine eyedrops in the same desk drawer where I stored my Wite-Out. One day, my eyes were tired from constant reading, so I reached—without looking—into the drawer for what I thought was Visine. It was all I could to not to scream once the Wite-Out hit my eyeball.

Anonymous said...

never have sex after using chilies

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