Avoid Chemical Holi


Holi is such a fun festival — revelry with family and friends, smearing colours on each other, throwing water balloons and drenching in water. But it becomes not so fun after the celebration due to the artificial colours manufactured with varieties of chemicals leaving you with numerous health, especially skin, problems.

Chemicals and skin

Colour powder is used extensively during the festival. But these colours contain chemicals like mercury sulphate, especially the red ones.

"The colours contain mercury sulphate, lead oxide and copper sulphate which will lead to allergic reactions," informs Dr Bipin Bhattachan, Consultant Dermatologist at Helping Hands Community Hospital, Chabahil and Green City Hospital, Basundhara. "These chemicals will cause irritation and redness in skin. Therefore, to protect one's self from the irritation and redness, one is advised to apply petroleum jelly, moisturisers or oil before going out to play Holi."

"Because of the presence of colourants and the base in it, this will have a negative effect on one's skin," shares Dr Manisha Singh, Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, KIST Medical College, Imadol. As per her, when exposed skin comes in contact with such colours, itching, burning sensation, irritation, redness are commonly seen on the skin along with eczema, dryness, scaling and hives.

Not only the skin, there are chances for one to damage one’s nails during the Holi celebration. "The nail beds are likely to be infected as the debris of the colours could remain on the beds leading to secondary infections. Nail can even come off," adds Dr Singh.

Due to the presence of detrimental chemicals in products like colours, some people fear skin cancers with their uses. Dr Bhattachan says one does not need to be afraid as "such chemicals come in contact with the skin for a short time only". But he points out, "If there is a long-term contact with the substances, then there are chances of skin cancer. People working in plastic and chemical production industries are under risk to suffer from skin cancers."

Nonetheless, chemical laced colours are not to be taken for granted. When it gets in one’s eyes, "one may damage his/her vision". So Dr Bhattachan advises — "wear sunglasses".

According to both doctors, some Holi colour contain powdered glass which will "scratch your skin". On the other hand, engine oils, which is alternative to colour powder, too damage the skin like colour powder do as "it too contains chemicals".

The hair too gets dry and damaged due to the chemicals.

As per Dr Singh, "The chemicals and colour powder can damage the hair shaft making them dry leading to split ends."

Vulnerable ones 

If you are fair skinned, then beware the colours this Holi.

"The level of melanin (pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their colour) is low in such fair people. There are high chances for such people damaging their skin more," Dr Singh informs citing, "Many of us celebrate the festival under the sun. When smeared colours' chemicals come in contact with the sunlight, your skin gets dry quickly. Moreover, this reaction is faster in people with fair skin. So, one has to apply sunscreen before and after celebrations to prevent skin from further damage, and avoid playing with colours under the sun."

Further "wrinkles will occur".

Those who are prone to allergic reactions are also under high risk of skin problems during the festival. "When there is a contact with these harmful chemical substances, people are likely to show the symptoms in three to four hours, or even after 24 hours. People can feel a kind of uneasiness," informs Dr Bhattachan. Those who have a history of allergy, are pregnant and asthmatic, are prone to such skin problems.

After Holi

So as to protect your skin from getting damaged, "do not take bath immediately after playing because there are chances that you would like to play it again. Therefore, finish playing and then only take a bath," advises Dr Singh.

Before taking a bath, cleanse your face and skin with a quality cleansing milk. Make sure that you don't wash it with a harsh soap. "If you immediately wash the colours with a harsh soap, you are likely to damage your skin," she explains.

And if there is a swelling in the eyes, lips, and face, and/or there is an occurrence of hives, as per Dr Bhattachan, it's urgent to visit the nearest dermatologist.