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There’s no spray or lotion that will instantly relieve the pain of getting maced, but this can help lessen the sting.

IF YOU’RE PLANNING ON ATTENDING any protests, it’s not a bad idea to plan and pack ahead, what with all the robocops spraying peaceful people like a farmer spraying crops. Whip one of these options up before you leave home and keep the bottle or jug someplace close at hand.

1. Dawn and water

Mix a solution of one part Dawn dish soap and three parts cold water. If you get sprayed in the face, fill a bowl with the solution and immerse your face for up to 15 seconds. Don’t wipe it away; the soap will start breaking down the oils in the spray. Repeat several times, then gently rub a towel soaked in the solution on your face. Refresh the solution in the bowl and repeat.

2. Milk spray

Fill a spray bottle with cold whole milk. Keep it chilled if at all possible. Everyone reacts differently to pepper spray – much depends on your skin type, sensitivity, pore size, etc – so this won’t alleviate the pain for everyone, but it does work in some cases.

3. Vegetable oil

Apply vegetable or cooking oil to your skin like lotion. Leave it for up to ten minutes, then rinse with soap and water and repeat.

  • If you wear contacts, take them out ASAP and throw them away. Submerge your face in water and open and close your eyes several times.
  • Keep two pairs of rubber gloves in your pocket and put on a pair at the first sign that pepper spray may be used. Once the spraying stops and you’re in a place where you can stop and assess the damage, throw them away and put on the other pair of gloves.
  • If you get sprayed in the mouth, rinse with milk or cold water if necessary, and suck on ice chips if the burning persists.
  • Avoid the temptation to rub your eyes and face. This will not alleviate the symptoms, and will only coat your hands with the spray, which you will then spread to everything you touch.
  • Don’t use lotions or creams, as they trap the chemicals against your skin.

Activism + Politics


About The Author

Michelle Schusterman

Michelle is a musician, writer, and teacher just trying to see the world while doing what she loves for a living. She's taught ESL in Salvador, Brazil and kindergarten in Suwon, Korea, and now she's a full-time freelance writer living in Seattle (just to keep the city alliteration going). She'll try pretty much any food once and believes coffee is its own food group.

  • JoeJoe1234

    99% of the pain is in the eyes (I know this from experience). The skin is only a very small part of the irritation. The milk solution is the best because it is basic (ant-acidic) and can be flushed directly into the eyes.
    The best way I can explain the feeling of being maced directly in the eyes is to imagine someone scratching steel wool directly on your eyes where your eyelids are forced open (because even closing them does not alleviate the pain in the least). You might find yourself constantly jerking your head backward as an attempt to “pull away” from what appears to be attacking your eyes.

  • Shoukhan

    I’ve been sprayed as part of a qualification in the Navy. What worked for me was to rub some Johnson and Johnson No More Tears baby shampoo on my face and THEN use water. After doing this twice all the OC Spray was off my face and I didn’t suffer a reflash.

  • Mix

    This is really good. Another remedy that the street medics from the WTO Seattle protest of 1999 used was Maalox (an antacid which can be bought over the counter from any pharmacist). They mixed this on a 1:1 ratio with water, put it in a spray bottle and gave a couple of squirts to people’s eyes if burned by tear gas/ CS gas/ pepperspray. It has to be made up fresh on the day though because and ‘goes off’ after 24 hours.

  • Ron | Active Planet Travels

    hahaha…This could be very useful someday soon…:-)

  • Mr. Observant

    1.  Not all cops are spraying people with pepper spray.
    If you are going to be glib, just say so.

    2. Where did she get this information about the pepper spray?The local doctor? Google? Just making stuff up? Citations please.

  • novenator

    50/50 mix of Malox and water works best.

  • Lance C. don’t know

    Occupational training hazard….our solution…vodka. It was explained in a very technical chemical brief more than once….all that matters is that it works.

  • Jes

    DO NOT USE OIL if you’ve been burned by pepper spray. I just went through this and the ER told me that any oil/lotion will aggravate your reaction. The best thing to do is use a water/soap solution and follow up with Maalox or a milk solution. 

  • doavl1985

    Learn how you can make 50 usd daily at home! swiftly enter the url: surveymoneymaker dot net

  • adigdigdig

    Seriously. You’re not supposed to use oil so why should I listen to anything else in the article.

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