Photo: Voc Hinterlang/Shutterstock

How to: Relieve Pepper Spray Burns

by Michelle Schusterman Nov 26, 2011
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.

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