Pepper Spray Treatment for Skin, Eyes and Mouth
Exposure to pepper spray affects people differently, but in general, the spray acts as an inflammatory agent causing an extreme burning sensation to the eyes, throat and skin. The symptoms are short-lived, lasting about thirty minutes. There is no need to panic after being exposed to pepper spray, as the active ingredient is derived from a natural ingredient in chile peppers, which will not cause permanent bodily damage.
The best first aid after being contaminated by pepper spray involves simple home remedies. Clinical studies have proven that the passage of time is the best predictor for pain relief. But there are simple steps to take in order to most effectively remove the pepper spray from the skin and eyes, and therefore extinguish the pain.
What To Do If You Get Sprayed by Pepper Spray on Accident
Due to the spray being oil-based, rinsing the skin with water won’t easily remove the pepper spray, just as eating spicy food cooked with hot peppers won’t go away with a big gulp of water. It is very important to avoid rubbing the eyes and skin because that won’t stop the itching and burning. It will only make the situation worse because touching the skin opens the capillaries which enables the pepper spray to spread.
The body’s own natural defense mechanisms, especially the mucus membranes of the skin and tear ducts, are on high alert trying to remove the offensive chemical. The result is blurred vision, coughing, and a runny nose. The natural process of blinking will slowly remove the pepper spray. However, rinsing with saline solution can speed up the process. Contact lenses must be immediately removed and disposed of along with any contaminated clothing. Eyeglasses can be reused, but should be thoroughly washed and dried.
Treating the Effects of Pepper Spray on Skin, Eyes and Mouth
Whole milk is a good antidote for alleviating the symptoms of pepper spray. Dip a clean towel into milk and apply it to the skin. Other application methods include using a spray bottle or simply splashing the milk onto the skin.
Milk relieves the burning sensation, but the oils from the pepper spray will still remain on the skin. To remove the oil, wash the affected area numerous times with soap and water. A mild dishwashing detergent or baby shampoo mixed with water is the best cleansing agent.
If facial skin has been exposed to pepper spray, it will work best to fill a sink or bowl with soapy water and submerge the skin, coming up periodically for air. This will allow the detergent to break down the oils. Do this several times without touching the skin, then begin lightly rubbing with a towel that has been saturated with the soapy water. The rubbing action may incite more of a burning sensation so proceed slowly. As the discomfort subsides, continue to rinse and change the detergent solution periodically to remove any oil residue. Depending on the skin’s sensitivity, this washing process could take up to 45 minutes.
Being exposed to pepper spray can be painful, but there won’t likely be long-term health problems. Unlike exposure to tear gas, which can cause glaucoma and cataracts when exposure is prolonged, the symptoms of pepper spray are usually temporary. However, there are some incidences in which asthmatics have gone into anaphylactic shock due to pepper spray exposure.
The important thing to remember after exposure to pepper spray is to avoid touching the eyes and face. Even brief rubbing allows the inflammatory chemical to penetrate the skin and spread. Simple washing procedures with whole milk and soapy water, and the body’s natural defense mechanisms will remove the oil-based pepper spray and offer relief.