Pepper Spray Treatment for Fast Relief

If you’ve been accidentally sprayed with pepper spray or for that matter any defense spray, the first thing you’ll want to know is how to get it off. Pepper spray treatment requires several different steps to ensure fast and effective pain relief which we’ll outline throughout this guide.

Member of the U.S. Coast Guard flushes eyes with water after being pepper sprayed during training.

Member of the U.S. Coast Guard flushes eyes with water after being pepper sprayed during training.

When pepper spray is deployed it produces a number of different symptoms. When contact is made with the eyes it will cause them to close shut, making it nearly impossible to keep them open due to the strong burning sensation.

Pepper spray also causes inflammation of the skin and a respiratory effect which makes it hard to breath. This respiratory effect can be especially dangerous for patients suffering from asthma. Due to all the side effects pepper spray induces you should be very careful when deploying and using it.

Despite popular belief, washing your face with water will only relieve pain for the short term. Remember pepper spray contains oleo-resin capsicum which is an oil, and oil and water don’t mix too well.  Water contains polar molecules and oil contains non-polar molecules which causes an imbalance and makes pepper spray difficult to wash off.

These are some tips you should follow when recovering from pepper spray:

1. Don’t touch the affected area

Since pepper spray is an oil-based product, touching your face will only cause it to spread to other areas making the burning sensation worse

2. Remove any contact lenses

If you are sprayed while wearing contact lenses its crucial to remove them right away. You can ask for assistance from another person since your own hands will most likely be covered with residue.

3. Apply milk to reduce the burning sensation

While milk does not remove the oily and inflammatory particles found in pepper spray, it will reduce the sting. Milk contains dairy fat which eliminates the capsaicin’s ability to produce heat. To apply this method, take a large bowl and fill it with cold whole milk and then soak the affected area for relief.

You can also use a spray or water bottle to make it easier to rinse the eyes especially if you don’t have access to a bowl. If you don’t have whole milk around you can use any cold dairy product.

4. Blink fast to tear up the eyes

Blinking will cause an influx in tears and help in flushing out the capsaicinoids which in turn will reduce dryness.

5. Rinse with dish detergent and water

Using a mild dish detergent and water makes for a great pepper spray antidote. Take ¼ of a mild dish detergent and mix it with ¾ of cool water. You’re going to need to wash your eyes up to 10 times so it’s suggested you make around 3-4 liters worth of the mixture.

After you have created the mixture you want pour it into a large bowl and dip your face into it for about 20 seconds at a time. Be sure to change the water after each rinse otherwise you’ll just be reusing the same old pepper spray water on your face.  You can also use a wet towel containing the mixture and pat it on the affected area to decontaminate the face.

You may also use a mild soap as an alternative to dish detergent.

6.  Avoid using any lotions or creams

Lotions or for that matter any product that contains oil should be avoided because it will only cause the situation to worsen and the pain to increase.

7.  Use saline solution

Saline will help flush out any extra pepper spray substance in the eye after the burning sensation has subsided. Be sure to continually blink your eyes after applying the solution to help get rid of any remaining oil in your eyes.

8. Use Liquid Antacid and Water

Liquid antacid (L.A.W.) is a solution comprised of 50 percent liquid antacid and 50 percent water.  This mixture is usually what emergency medics use to treat pepper spray. This only applies to aluminum or magnesium hydroxide based antacids such as Maalox and not simethicone based antacids.  Even though medics primarily use this mixture as a pepper spray neutralizer it’s not recommended for those without experience.

Lastly, remember the effects of pepper spray can last from 15 minutes all the way up to several hours.  During the pepper spray treatment phase it’s important to not touch or rub the affected areas since it will only cause the pain longer to subside.

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