Hot peppers are delicious, but sometimes the flavor of the pepper is followed closely by a burst of heat that makes your mouth feel like it's on fire. Capsaicin, found in all peppers, is the reason for the burn. Mild peppers such as sweet red or green peppers contain little capsaicin, but cayenne or habanero peppers contain a higher level and can be extremely hot. Although the burning sensation can be uncomfortable, immediate action can douse the flames.
Neutralize the burn immediately by eating or drinking a high-fat dairy product, which will break the bonds that the hot pepper forms with the nerve endings on your mouth and lips. High-fat dairy products include cream, half-and-half, yogurt, sour cream, cold milk or ice cream.
Chew on a potato, bagel, roll or a piece of bread. The starch in the food can help to cool the burning sensation.
Apply a drop of juice from an aloe vera plant. The aloe vera juice will cool the lip burn immediately.
Avoid drinking water immediately after eating hot peppers, as the water will just distribute the capsaicin through your mouth.
Avoid eating acidic foods such as citrus fruits or tomatoes after a lip burn, as the acid will irritate the burn and increase the pain.
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.