Whether you are a cop or a single woman, a pepper spray is easily the most effective self-defense equipment you can carry around. Derived from Oleoresin Capsicum, pepper spray is a tear inducing agent, and is used by law enforcement officers to control mobs. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in pepper spray, which can cause an intense burning sensation when it touches the skin and eyes. Your body reacts instantly the moment your skin comes in contact with the spray. The first impulse is to close the eyes, which can cause momentary blindness.
The capsaicin causes the mucous membranes to swell, and breathing disperses the particles, and the victim can suffer from a runny nose, coughing, and experience difficulty in breathing. These effects last anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending upon the person's tolerance to pain.
You should be aware of the remedies required to get relief from the irritation and pain that results from a pepper spray, in case you, or someone you know has been a victim of a pepper spray.
Effective Remedies for Pepper Spray
● First and foremost, do not panic. Secondly, bear in mind, if you have been sprayed, DO NOT RUB the area. The more you rub, the more the inflammatory agent in the spray spreads over your skin, worsening the burning sensation.
● Blink your eyes as much as possible, this will produce tears that will help wash the spray from your eyes. If you use contact lenses and have been pepper-sprayed, remove and discard the contacts in the first place. You can also use a saline solution to wash your eyes. Regularly use it to rinse your eyes for the next 24 hours.
● Apply whole milk to the affected area. Fill milk in a squirt bottle, or drench a towel in cold milk and hold it over the face, or just splash your face with milk. Milk does not wash away the spray as such, but it will decrease the burning and irritation. You can even mix a glass of water with antacid solution and splash your face and the affected skin with it to soothe away the fiery sensation. Use magnesium hydroxide or aluminum hydroxide based antacids. You can also make use of honey or baking soda, these substances act as effective antidotes against capsaicin. Placing ice packs over the affected area will also alleviate the burning sensation.
● Washing your face with water will not be of much use. Pepper spray is oil-based, and as we all know, water and oil do not mix. Use a baby shampoo solution to wash your face. Pour cold water in a large bowl and add baby shampoo to it. It is ideal if the bowl is big enough for you to immerse your face in it, ten seconds at a time. Repeat this action a few times. Now dip your hands in the solution and ever so lightly, rub your face. Be very careful when you rub, because the spray is still very much there, so the stinging sensation will sharply return when you start rubbing.
After a few minutes of very gentle rubbing, you may get accustomed to the burning feel, and the shampoo solution would have also started to wash away the spray. If need be, use a fresh solution, the old one might have too much of oil residue floating around.
● Take a long, cold shower. Do not use hot water. Use a regular soap, avoid using an oil-based soap. Pat yourself dry with a soft towel. Most importantly, do not rub your skin. Wash your clothes thoroughly as soon as possible. Avoid touching other persons and objects around you, or you may end up contaminating them as well.
● If you suffer from any respiratory diseases such as asthma, or if the burning does not lessen with time, visit your doctor.
Pepper spray is a very effective self-defense tool, and the remedies listed above do not work instantaneously. It will be a while before they take effect, and depending upon your skin type and resistance to pain, you will begin to feel the ill-effects of the spray wearing off.