Why you shouldn't wash your face immediately after exposure to teargas

Tear gas is not a gas but a very fine compound that can be dispersed as an aerosol.

A protestor being tear gased

Tear gas is a riot control agent designed to incapacitate individuals temporarily by causing irritation to the eyes, respiratory system, and skin.

While its effects are typically short-lived, exposure can be distressing and painful.

If you are planning to join protests against the Finance Bill 2024, here are crucial steps to follow if you find yourself exposed to tear gas:

Tear gas is not actually a gas but a fine powder substance. When you touch your skin, you grind these powder particles into your tear ducts and mucous membranes, creating micro-abrasions and prolonging the irritation.

Avoid touching your face or skin to prevent worsening the effects.

Quickly move to a well-ventilated area to help disperse the tear gas particles from your skin and clothes. Flap your arms up and down to aid this process.

Do not pick up tear gas canisters, as they may still release harmful substances.

Although it seems impossible, opening your eyes momentarily can help dissipate the substance faster.

If you have goggles, use them. If not, do this step one moment at a time to reduce discomfort.

Let your nose run and your eyes tear naturally. Bend forward at your waist and allow the fluids to flow out.

Avoid touching your face or rubbing your nose, as this can increase the irritation.

If you can determine the wind direction, move opposite to it. The wind can help carry away the tear gas particles, reducing your exposure.

Even though you may want to hose off or shower immediately, it's best to wait a few hours for the powder to dry.

Washing off too soon can reactivate the chemical agents and cause more burning.

Understand that the tear gas particles can linger on your clothes and hairline.

If you are sweating, avoid wiping sweat off your face as water can activate the chemical agent, causing more burning.

Use a cloth to wrap around your hairline and head to keep sweat from dripping into your eyes.

When you finally shower, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly first before touching any other part of your body.

Once in the shower, rinse your hair first with your head bent over and away from your body to prevent the tear gas particles from running down your body.

Panicking only causes you to lose control. Stay calm and methodically follow the steps above.

Maintaining composure is crucial to effectively managing tear gas exposure and minimizing its effects.


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