How To Get Pepper Spray Off Skin: Safe And Effective Decontamination

Last updated: July 11, 2023


Dealing with a pepper spray hit is not something we generally prepare for. However, understanding how to react and treat the exposed skin can make a difference in easing the discomfort. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to get pepper spray off your skin safely and effectively.

Understanding Pepper Spray

Pepper spray, known chemically as Oleoresin Capsicum, is a non-lethal self-defense tool. It’s made from a derivative of hot pepper plants, and it’s meant to temporarily incapacitate an aggressor by causing extreme irritation to the eyes and respiratory system.

Immediate Reactions to Pepper Spray Exposure

Symptoms of Pepper Spray Exposure

Exposure to pepper spray can lead to immediate and intense burning sensations. Your eyes will tear up, your skin will feel like it’s on fire, and you may even have difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may include coughing, runny nose, and temporary blindness. It doesn’t sound fun, does it?

Duration of Pepper Spray Effects

The effects of pepper spray typically last from 20 to 90 minutes, but it’s not uncommon for the skin to feel irritated for several hours afterward. Time might feel like it’s dragging, but know that relief is on the horizon.

First Aid for Pepper Spray Exposure

So you’ve been pepper sprayed – quite the tear-jerker, right? Fear not; this section’s got your back! Prepare for a spicy crash course on giving that fiery pepper spray the cold shoulder. Let’s dive into these first aid tips – because who needs extra spice in their life, right?

What Not To Do

Before we dive into the right steps, it’s crucial to know what not to do. Do not rub or touch the affected area. This can spread the pepper spray and make the situation worse. Also, avoid using oily or cream-based products as they can trap the spray’s particles.

What To Do

Immediate treatment is crucial for minimizing the effects of pepper spray. Remember to stay calm and breathe. Your body will naturally produce tears and mucus to remove the foreign substance.

Step-by-step Guide to Remove Pepper Spray from Skin

Step 1: Blink and Breathe

This might sound counterintuitive, but blink your eyes rapidly. This can stimulate tears and help wash out the pepper spray. Breathe slowly and deeply.

Step 2: Remove Contaminated Clothing.

Carefully remove any clothing that might have come into contact with the pepper spray. Avoid touching your face or other body areas with the contaminated clothes.

Step 3: Rinse with Cool Water

Rinse the affected skin area thoroughly with cool water. Avoid hot water as it can reactivate the pepper spray, causing further discomfort.

Step 4: Use Non-Oil-Based Soap

Wash your skin with a non-oil-based soap. Repeat this a few times to ensure you’ve removed as much pepper spray as possible.

Step 5: Seek Medical Attention

If your symptoms persist after these steps, it’s crucial to seek professional medical attention immediately.

Preventing Future Exposure

Avoiding exposure to pepper spray is the best prevention. If you find yourself in a situation where exposure is possible, try to leave immediately or protect your face and skin as best as you can.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take for pepper spray effects to wear off? 

Typically, the effects of pepper spray last from 20 to 90 minutes. However, in some cases, skin irritation can persist for several hours.

2. Can I use milk or yogurt to neutralize pepper spray? 

Although some people believe dairy products can help, it’s best to rinse with cold water and non-oil-based soap. Dairy can trap pepper spray particles, prolonging the irritation.

3. Is pepper spray exposure dangerous? 

While pepper spray is non-lethal, it can cause severe discomfort and temporary incapacitation. If symptoms persist after cleansing, seek medical attention.

4. Can I protect myself from being affected by pepper spray? 

The best protection against pepper spray is avoidance. If you can’t avoid it, try to shield your face and exposed skin as much as possible.

5. What should I do if I accidentally touch my eyes after handling a pepper spray canister?

If you touch your eyes after handling a pepper spray canister, rinse your eyes immediately with cool water and blink rapidly to stimulate tears. Seek medical attention if discomfort persists.


Removing pepper spray from your skin is a process that requires knowledge, patience, and care. Following these steps can help mitigate the effects and provide relief. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and take care of your health.

Thinking about the strength of a stun gun? Read more about it from our blogs at Security Forward today.

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