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Holi was traditionally played by making colours from flowers blooming at this time of the year and the natural coloured extracts from seasonal herbs. The fragrant natural colours also had therapeutic value and were beneficial for skin and health.
However, chemicals and other toxic substances slowly replaced flowers and herbs in the colours. These colours contain industrial dyes -- like those for dyeing our clothing -- and can cause serious harm to our skin.
Skin disorders like discoloration, contract dermatitis, abrasion, irritation, itching, and dryness are common post-Holi.
"Harsh chemicals in Holi colours can cause itching and rashes which can lead to eczemas upon scratching, which is the most common type of reaction seen by dermatologists after Holi. Dry skin leaves a lot of scope for these harmful chemicals as the skin layer allows the colour to penetrate easily," Anup Dhir, senior cosmetic surgeon, Apollo Hospital, said.
Use natural, skin-friendly and herbal colours or the ones made by reputed companies using natural products.
"Wear clothes that can cover maximum part of the body and apply a thick layer of a good quality cream or oil to your skin. Use more of red or pink colours, which look good and can easily be taken off. Gaudy purple, green, yellow, orange have more harmful chemicals in them and should be avoided," said Dhir.
The hair is very prone to getting spoilt with these chemical colours. It can turn brittle and extremely dry if the Holi colours remain unwashed for long.
"Though no serious damage is done on the roots or scalp, the hair begins to break. It happens because of the chemicals in the colours and the dust present outside. Apply a nice layer of oil to your hair before playing Holi and try to protect it with a cap or hat," said Hema Pant, a dermatologist with Kaya Skin Clinic, a skincare solutions centre.
According to dermatologists, if some kind of irritation occurs then immediately wash off colour from that part of body and apply soothing calamine lotion. Avoid sunlight in case the skin is seriously affected, as it will increase the irritation.
"Cleaning the skin and hair finally of all the colours is the most important aspect. Do not rub the skin vigorously with soaps to wipe the face of gulal but, instead, opt for a cleanser. Follow this up with lots of moisturiser, specially ones that are meant for sensitive skin," said Dhir.
Avoid using kerosene, petrol and spirits to remove stains, as they will further dry the skin.
"After celebrating Holi, it is important to remove colour and replenish and rejuvenate the skin by using a paste of soyabean flour or besan with milk. A mixture of sea salt, glycerine and a few drops of aroma oil have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effect and can take care of the bad effects of chemical colours," said Smriti Rana, a beautician.
Hazards of a few common Holi colours
Black - It might contain lead oxide leading to health problems like renal failure and learning disability.
Green - It might contain copper sulphate and can cause problems like eye allergy and temporary blindness.
Purple - It might contain chromium iodide leading to health problems like bronchial asthma and allergies.
Silver - It might contain aluminium bromide, which is carcinogenic.
Red - It might contain mercury sulphite, which can lead to skin cancer, mental retardation, paralysis and impaired vision.
Blue - It might contain Prussian blue, which can cause contract dermatitis.