While Holi is a festival of colours, one must exercise caution while playing with them, for they can cause skin, and eye injuries. A majority of people complain of respiratory issues, skin, and eye reactions, say experts.

“Holi colours have heavy metals, broken pieces of glasses, chemicals, and pesticides in them,” said Dr Mrinmayee Mukund, dermatologist, Apollo Spectra Mumbai. “A majority of people complain of bacterial skin infections, skin allergies, or contact dermatitis, rashes, itching, burning sensation, and hives after playing with Holi colours. The colours are made up of hazardous chemicals like mercury, asbestos, silica, mica, and lead which are toxic to the human skin and eyes. Eye problems like allergies, corneal abrasion conjunctivitis, and eye injuries are seen. Furthermore, an allergic reaction can cause reddening, swelling, and watery eyes,” she warned.

How does it affect the eyes?

Dr Mukund informed that the chemicals come in contact with the iris which can cause serious inflammation. “The chemicals can smear the lens and cause infection. Many people are not aware of the hazards of these colours and tend to take things lightly.”

Protect your eyes from colours. (Representative/Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

Not only skin and eye problems, but the colours can also lead to respiratory problems, said Dr Sangita Chekker, consultant chest physician, Wockhardt Hospitals Mira Road.

“The colour can enter the mouth and aggravate conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which can lead to wheezing, coughing, and mucus (sputum) production. Lead present in the colour is dangerous for children and may even cause disabilities. Chromium invites bronchitis, asthma, and allergies. Mercury impacts the kidney, liver, and unborn baby’s health, iron can increase skin sensitivity to light. Silica can lead to dry skin,” said the doctor, adding that one needs to be alert.

How to play a safe Holi?

Use organic colours, moisturise, or oil your skin before playing Holi. “Use good sunscreen, sunglasses for the eyes, and avoid wearing lenses. Avoid touching your eyes or rubbing them as it may cause irritation or other eye problems. Wear full-sleeved clothes and avoid using balloons. After playing, do not use detergent, spirit, nail polish remover, alcohol, or acetone to remove colours. Use a soap recommended by the doctor, don’t scrub, and just moisturise the skin,” concluded Dr Mukund.

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