Though it's impossible to cease breathing until the pepper spray no longer stings, which can be anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes, an individual can minimize its impact on his body by keeping his mouth shut while being sprayed. Many cadets will begin to cough and choke once they are sprayed. However, the more you cough and take big breaths in, the more you'll allow the pepper spray into your mouth, throat and lungs. Breathe through your nose and keep the coughing to a minimum.
As your eyes tear up, the pepper spray will disperse through your tears. Therefore, if you can, you should allow yourself to tear up, which will naturally rid your eyes of the spray. To expedite the process you can always blink with more frequency or, if you can stand the pain, keep your eyes open for extended periods of time. This will which naturally causes the eyes to tear.
Once you've been sprayed keep your hair and hands away from your face. Though you may find that your eyes tear up more when they come into contact with your hair or hands, this usually happens because these items have pepper spray on them, and your eyes are simply reacting to the additional contact. Rubbing your eyes may provide a temporary relief, but can actually worsen the pain in the long run, as you may not only rub more pepper spray into your eyes, but the pressure you're putting on your eyes will maximize the pepper spray's contact as well.
Most cadets know that the pepper spray training will cause them great burning and discomfort. By remaining calm, however, you're able to follow all instructions, including where you need to move after you've been sprayed and how to wash out your eyes. Panicking may also prevent you from regulating your breathing and keeping your hands out of your eyes.