Is tolerance to spicy hot capsaicin localized on the body?

Suppose we have Jim and John, two people with wildly different tolerances to spicy hot food.

Jim never eats spicy foods and can have trouble with even a bite of chili.

John loves spicy foods and eats it all the time. He has built up quite a tolerance and can even handle drinking Tobasco sauce straight out of the bottle.

Do these two have different sensitivities to pepper spray in the eyes?

It is possible to build up a tolerance to pepper spray. Suppose John built up his tolerance and can handle getting sprayed in the eyes. Would he be less sensitive to chili oil on other parts of his body, like the genitals?

I’m pretty sure you can’t. Pepper spray is usually about 5 times stronger than the hottest pepper known. Chart.

It’s a chemical irritant.

And? There are people who deliberately rub those peppers in their eyes, and don’t seem to suffer from it. And even if its not possible to build up a practical immunity to pepper spray (a point I would dispute), it should still be possible to develop a resistance, so you aren’t as incapacitated by it, or so that it takes a larger amount to incapacitate you.

see Mithraditism:

yes the body almost certainly could build up a resistance but whether it could get to the point where a direct spray in the eyes of pure capsaican doesn’t incapacitate you… well I don’t want to test it :wink:

The level of tolerance built up will differ from person to person but seems to top out at some point. I can eat spicier than many people, but even though I tried for years, I simply could not reach the point where I was not bothered at all by spicy food. I still don’t like it too spicy.

So how localized is the tolerance? Does the guy who chugs Tabasco out of the bottle shrug off accidentally getting some chili oil on his pepe?

Short answer:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, you could eventually adapt.

Long answer:
I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing pepper spray in training and witnessed many exposures. People have different tolerances, some will be instantly incapacitated, while others seem mildly irritated. Most people fall in the middle. I’ve never known someone to build up such an intolerance that it doesn’t affect them, however they’re ability to function seems to increase with each exposure. For instance, person A has a low tolerance. They gets pepper sprayed, and can’t see, can’t breathe, can’t do anything but stick their head in a bucket and snot all over themselves.

Next time Person A gets sprayed, they can run through a obstacle course, drag a dummy, etc… before they stick their head in a bucket and snot all over themselves. For what its worth, most people can go through the course the first time, however they will still improve after their first exposure. I’m sure this is in part due to the reduced stress of knowing what to expect, however it seems recovery times also shorten.

Also, strictly observational - I’ve noticed pepper spray seems to effect the fair skinned and women more. Not sure why. I’ve been pepper sprayed twice, and each time, I was just a little puffy-eyed 30 minutes after exposure, and after an hour or two there was no difference in my appearance. I’ve observed fair skinned people’s face actually swell with blood shot eyes that lasted for a day or two.

Also, there are plenty of designer hot sauces on the market that are hotter than pepper spray:

I was introduced to them by a coworker, as he loved them. Put them on everything, leading me to believe his taste buds must have been burned off years ago. Oddly enough, he was fair skinned, and swelled up like a balloon when he got sprayed. He did seem to feel the effects for less time through, probably because he was just used to dealing with the burn.:cool: