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Many people carry to fend off attackers and other threats. Unfortunately, mistakes can occasionally cause the person using it to accidentally get a face full of spray. Knowing how to treat pepper spray will help relieve the burning sensation faster so you get back to normal.
First, here are two things not to do when you’re hit with pepper spray:
1. Don’t rinse with water alone. Many people’s reaction to a pepper spray blast is to drink water or douse their face. However, oleoresin capsicum (OC), the active ingredient in pepper spray, is an oil — and like the timeless saying goes, oil and water just don’t mix. The water may provide temporary relief, but the OC oil will remain, and the burning sensation will come right back (often even spreading past the area originally sprayed).
2. Don’t touch the affected area. Since pepper spray is oil-based, it spreads very easily. You don’t want the spray on your arms to end up in your eyes and ears too, so try not to touch the sprayed area.
Luckily, there are a few other things you can do to relieve pepper spray burns in the moment. Here are four options for immediate pepper spray treatment:
1. Blink rapidly. If you have pepper spray in your eyes, doing this will cause them to tear up and help flush the oils out.
2. Wash with soap or another personal care cleanser. Soaps and shampoos are formulated to help break up and remove all oils — including OC oil. You might even use dish soap for extra cleaning power, but don’t use this anywhere on your face.
3. Use “no tears” baby shampoo. This will help remove oil from around the eyes and other sensitive areas without causing additional irritation like some regular soaps.
4. Apply medicated wipes or solutions. Specially-formulated solutions such as help neutralize the effects of pepper spray and other chemical agents. Many EMTs and law enforcement officers carry these compounds to treat subjects who have been hit.
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