Pepper spray is truly necessary to survive in today’s world. It serves as a handy tool to protect ourselves in dangerous situations. But what if you spray it accidentally onto your skin? There might be some instances where you mishandled the pepper spray bottle and you ended up with a sudden burning sensation. Capsaicin is found in pepper spray that affects the skin. It is advisable to safely remove pepper spray residue from the skin.
1. Adverse Effects of Pepper Spray on the Skin
While pepper spray is a great way to protect ourselves from attackers and it is readily available in almost all chemist shops, it can cause gastrointestinal, nasal, ocular, and pulmonary in human beings if handled carelessly.
Pepper spray contains active ingredients like capsaicin and chili peppers which result in a burning sensation, irritation, inflammation, redness, blisters, and welts. Panic and loss of consciousness are common in this situation. Hence, it is crucial to promote quick recovery. Otherwise, it might result in serious health problems.
Here is a list of reactions that pepper spray has on one’s body:
1.1. Swelling and Itching
Pepper spray leads to constant swelling, intense burning, and itching if pepper sprayed directly onto the skin. Some people may also witness bluish discolouration on the exposed skin. The symptoms usually last 30 minutes to 2 hours. Hence, no need to worry.
1.2. Eye Irritation
If you happen to get pepper spray on your eyes, then it can cause severe pain, eye closure, and redness. Your eyes might also shed tears and pepper spray exposure may also cause temporary blindness. Some people even complain of a bubbling and boiling sensation. These symptoms go away within 30 minutes. Do visit a general physician if the symptoms worsen.
1.3. Temporary Blindness
Eye irritation can also lead to vision problems for a short period. While it may be troublesome, your eyes will be back to normal within 30 minutes.
1.4. Respiratory Problems
People with lung diseases like asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) may experience choking, coughing, and wheezing. A person might also incur an extreme burning sensation in the throat and lungs, gagging, trouble breathing, and inability to speak in this situation. It generally takes 45 minutes for the symptoms to go away.
1.5. Mucous Membrane Irritation
Pepper spray can cause irritation in mucous membranes and a burning sensation in the nose and mouth which leads to uneasiness, acute pain, and a runny nose. However, the symptoms aren’t long-term. Therefore, no need for medical assistance.
1.6. Chest Pain
Pepper spray can lead to soreness and acute pain in the chest because of active ingredients like capsaicin and chilli pepper extracts. It may lead to serious respiratory problems and it is advisable to meet the general physician if the symptoms last longer.
1.7. Vomiting and Nausea
You might also experience serious stomach problems, sickness, and vomiting. These gastrointestinal problems are temporary and will go away after a short period.
2. How to get Pepper Spray off Skin?
First of all, no need to panic. Pepper spray burns can be treated at home and no medical attention is required. However, if the problem continues, it is advisable to meet a medical professional.
2.1. Get Some Fresh Air
It’s crucial to get some fresh air quickly after inhaling pepper spray. Moving to fresh air will stop you from inhaling more pepper spray. Hence, you should immediately leave the place to save yourself from respiratory problems.
2.2. Use Cool Water
Always prefer Cold water rather than hot water to rinse the pepper spray burns. The cold water instantly calms the skin and washes away the capsaicin residue. You can also use a gentle soap to clean the irritating skin. Say no to hot water as hot water can further worsen the condition.
2.3. Don’t Touch Your Face
You should try to avoid touching your face and eyes as the residue from affected areas may travel to other parts of your body. It may further lead to a burning sensation in the eyes and face. Hence, it is advisable to keep your hands away from your face, especially your eyes for safety purposes.
2.4. Avoid Rubbing Your Skin
Pepper spray causes irritation and it’s natural to have the sudden urge to gently rub the exposed skin but you should avoid rubbing at all costs. Rubbing can intensify the burning sensation and spread the capsaicin to other parts of the skin.
2.5. Use Mild Soap
Kindly use mild dish soap on the affected area to reduce the effect of capsaicin. It is important to avoid harsh soaps that could potentially fuel irritation. You can also use baby shampoo to get rid of pepper spray residue. Please note that you aren’t supposed to use soap around your eyes as it may cause irritation.
2.6. Use Saline Solution
Apply saline solution to the exposed area for quick relief as it washes away capsaicin within minutes. Firmly rub the oil onto the skin and wash it with cold water after some time.
2.7. Apply Milk
Cold whole milk is quite effective in treating pepper spray burns as it contains a protein called casein. Casein protein plays an important role in neutralizing the adverse effects of capsaicin. Take a clean cotton cloth or paper towel and soak it in milk for a few minutes. Now, firmly dab the affected part with the cotton cloth. You will see the results within a few minutes.
2.8. Use Baking Soda
Baking soda is a simple way to get rid of the residue of pepper spray off the skin. You just need to mix baking soda and water to form a paste. Softly apply the paste onto the affected skin before washing away completely. Similarly, vegetable oil is quite effective in dissolving capsaicin.
It’s important to make use of a mild moisturizer (that suits your skin type) after the removal of residue from the skin. Kindly keep yourself hydrated and drink enough water to eliminate the residue from your body as soon as possible.
3. Final Words
Pepper spray and tear gas are major defense weapons to save ourselves from brutal crimes. It is also used by law enforcement organizations in the US to control aggressive crowds and also at the time of protest. While it is available everywhere in the market, anyone can use it against predators who try to commit a violent crime.
Pepper spray is an excellent self-defense tool that protects you against heinous activities that persist in society. Pepper spray comes in spray bottles; hence, it is extremely easy to use. Everyone should carry a bottle of pepper spray before heading outside to ensure their safety.