What are the effects of pepper spray? Direct facial contact and inhalation of the spray will induce coughing, choking, and nausea, as well as dilating the eye capillaries resulting in temporary blindness. The mucous membranes will swell to prevent all but life support breathing causing the assailant to be temporarily incapacitated. Skin contact will cause a burning sensation which is aggravated by rubbing the area. A one second burst of pepper spray can affect an attacker for up to 45 minutes without causing permanent damage.