Holi brings a cheer on everyone’s faces. Traditionally, Holi is a festival that celebrates the return of spring a time when several trees bloom and people played colors with flowers. However over the years, with the disappearance of some of these tree varieties from urban areas, the natural colours gradually are replaced by cheaper industrial dyes. These colours may contain chemicals and toxins, grease and grime, and sometimes-even glass, and are very harmful to the skin. Often, the colours are sold loose in the market and consumers have little or no idea about the source of the colours and their contents. This had a negative health effect on people in the form of skin rashes and allergies, dry brittle hair, eye injury etc. So, play colorful Holi, but take some precautions before and after Holi to keep your skin, hair, eye, nails safe. Dr. Apratim Goel, Cosmetic Dermatologist, and Laser Surgeon shares quick pre-Holi skin care tips.
Precautions before playing Holi
- Try using natural or herbal natural colors. You can even make your own colours at home using natural products like henna, turmeric powder, and dry flowers petals. Dry petals of flowers can be grounded to make powder and used as dry color. These things will not harm instead act beneficial for skin.
- Use a barrier cream or mustard oil in generous quantity on all exposed parts of the body. Let the skin absorb it for 20 to 30 minutes. Then apply waterproof sunscreen.
- Apply Vaseline inside nails, feet, elbows, at the back of the ear. People with sensitive skin should avoid colors in sensitive areas of skin.
- For those with a history of skin allergy or rash, take an anti-allergic tablet on the previous night to avoid skin irritation and rash.
- Massage hair oil generously on scalp and hair length, this will protect hair from excessive dryness caused by colors. If you don’t want to step out with oiled hair, blend style with functionality by using hair gel. Conditioning the hair, without rinsing it off, is another option.
Harmful effects of Holi colours on our skin
- The dry color powders, the oily pastes, and the watercolors all contain toxic substances capable of affecting human health. Disorders like discoloration, abrasion, irritation, itching and chapped skin are often mistaken as normal side-effects of Holi. But any color that leads to any of these conditions is harmful.
- Eczema is the most common type of reaction seen post-Holi, especially if the colours have already caused a rash, thereby making the skin dry and open to chemical penetration. Solvents like lead, benzene, aromatic compounds can lead to dry skin, which is only the primary irritant. Once you rub the skin to remove the color, benzene dissolves the keratin in the skin. Don’t use nail paint remover to remove the colors because the skin then absorbs organic compounds.
- If the colors react or irritate the skin, they should be immediately washed away with running water. While washing off the color, use lukewarm water and keep your eyes and lips tightly closed. In case of any irritation or burning, calamine lotion can be applied. If the irritation persists, consult a dermatologist urgently. Antihistamines, topical steroids or antibiotics can be used. In severe reactions, Systemic Steroids may be used.