Pepper spray on the eyes can cause an intense burning sensation in the eyes. The person experiences a “bubbling” or “boiling” sensation and eventually temporary blindness and pain in the eye occurs. It can cause inflammation of the skin and difficulty breathing which is dangerous to people suffering from asthma.
The effects of pepper spray can last for 30-45 minutes which depends on how strong the solution is. Remember that pepper spray can burn the throat and result to dry cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, gasping, gagging and inability to speak. Sometimes, it can cause cyanosis which is a bluish skin discoloration that indicates reduced oxygen and flow of blood.
Pepper spray is a lachrymatory agent which makes the eyes tear. It is based on an oil known as oleoresin capsicum. An inflammatory agent found in the oil known as capsaicin is the chemical that makes chili peppers hot but in the spray it is in an higher concentration.
Treatment for pepper spray exposure
- Avoid touching the affected area to prevent severe irritation. Touching the face will spread the oil and worsen the condition.
- Allow the eye to tear by blinking a lot. Blinking will produce liquid that helps in flushing out the residue of the spray from the eyes.
- Remove contact lenses from the eyes if there is any. Contact lenses affected by pepper spray will worsen the condition.
- After removing the lenses, submerge the face in clean and cool water and open and close the eyes under the water several times for 15 minutes to remove any residue of the pepper spray. Another alternative is standing under a cool shower to wash off all residue of the pepper spray. After performing these remedies, keep the eyes open to allow the irritant to evaporate.
- Use milk to relieve the burning sensation on the skin and allows easy flushing out of the residue of the spray in the eyes. Splash whole milk on the face but keep the eyes closed.