In some chiles, the level of capsaicin is so high, it can actually irritate the skin.
To protect your hands, wear disposable latex gloves when handling them (a plastic zipper-lock bag on one hand will also do in a pinch). This advice holds true whether you’re working with fresh or dried chiles.
To tamp down the fire, remove the seeds and ribs before adding chiles to a dish. You can always reserve the seeds to add later to the finished dish.