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West J Emerg Med. 2018 Mar;19(2):294-300. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2017.12.36307. Epub 2018 Feb 26.

Baby Shampoo to Relieve the Discomfort of Tear Gas and Pepper Spray Exposure: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

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Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.



Oleoresin capsicum (OC) or pepper spray, and tear gas (CS) are used by police and the military and produce severe discomfort. Some have proposed that washing with baby shampoo helps reduce this discomfort.


We conducted a prospective, randomized, controlled study to determine if baby shampoo is effective in reducing the severity and duration of these effects. Study subjects included volunteers undergoing OC or CS exposure as part of their police or military training. After standardized exposure to OC or CS all subjects were allowed to irrigate their eyes and skin ad lib with water. Those randomized to the intervention group were provided with baby shampoo for application to their head, neck, and face. Participants rated their subjective discomfort in two domains on a scale of 0-10 at 0, 3, 5, 10, and 15 minutes. We performed statistical analysis using a two-tailed Mann-Whitney Test.


There were 58 participants. Of 40 subjects in the OC arm of the study, there were no significant differences in the ocular or respiratory discomfort at any of the time points between control (n=19) and intervention (n=21) groups. Of 18 subjects in the CS arm, there were no significant differences in the ocular or skin discomfort at any of the time points between control (n=8) and intervention (n=10) groups.


Irrigation with water and baby shampoo provides no better relief from OC- or CS-induced discomfort than irrigation with water alone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest: By the WestJEM article submission agreement, all authors are required to disclose all affiliations, funding sources and financial or management relationships that could be perceived as potential sources of bias. No author has professional or financial relationships with any companies that are relevant to this study. There are no conflicts of interest or sources of funding to declare.

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