Allergy in eyes leading to blindness, skin rashes resulting in dermatitis, kidney damage due to lead oxide, asthma due to chlorine iodine and mental retardation …. all these are the side effects of the splash of vibrant colours that we are all set to enjoy this Holi.
As we pull out our pichkaris (colour Sprayer), colours and gulaal (dry coloured powder), let us not overlook the harmful chemicals and dyes present in the widely used colours.
Here are 10 tips for you to stay safe during Holi:
1. Avoid black (contains lead oxide), green (copper sulphate and malachite green), blue (prussian blue) silver (aluminium bromide), purple (chlorine iodine) and red (mercury sulphate).
Instead, make natural colours at home and use them. For example, green using henna powder, yellow using turmeric powder and besan, red using hibiscus and beetroot, blue using Jacaranda flowers.
2. Wear full-sleeved dresses so that maximum portion of your skin remains covered, thereby avoiding direct contact with artificial colours.
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3. Before stepping out to play Holi, apply moisturising lotion or body oil generously on your face, hands, legs, necks and other exposed parts of the body to avoid straining of colours. Also, use a good sunscreen lotion to be safe from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
4. Oil your hair and wear a cap/hat/turban or cover your head with a dupatta( long multi-purpose scarf) so that your hair doesn’t turn dry and frizzy after coming in contact with colours.
5. Remove your contact lenses and wear a pair of goggles so that colour doesn’t enter your eyes. In case, a colour enters your eyes, wash off immediately with cold water and don’t rub them.
6. Don’t use kerosene, petrol and spirits to remove colour stains as they make the skin drier. Also, avoid hard soaps and shampoo. Wash off the colours with a mild soap and baby shampoo.
7. If skin irritation starts immediately after coming in contact with a particular colour, apply a calamine lotion or aloe vera gel. Sunlight increases irritation. So find some shade and take rest.
8. If you have asthma or dust/pollen allergy, avoid playing Holi with gulaal .
9. Limit your intake of “bhang” (a preparation of cannabis), which is considered as the official Holi drink, to avoid a sudden rise in blood pressure and increased heart rate.
10. Drink a lot of water – before, during and after your Holi celebrations. H2O has this magical power to stop the absorption of harmful chemicals into your skin, as well as detoxify the body.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.