Protect your skin, hair and eyes on Holi: Dr Anand

Holi’s round the corner. Are you someone who can’t resist water balloons and jets of coloured water? If so, these tips can help you enjoy the festival of colours while protecting your skin from allergies.

Dermatological Surgeon and Consultant, Dr. Anand Krishna is the only Dermatologist in India to have a Diploma in Integrated medicine, encompassing Ayurveda, Siddha & Homeopathy.

In an exclusive interview with Lakshmi Krishnamoorthy, Dr Anand suggests precautionary measures to be taken during Holi while highlighting the hidden impurities of the so-called ‘herbal’ colours.

What would you suggest to people who want to play Holi without damaging their skin?

Holi is the festival of colours. Unfortunately, due to the paucity and cost of natural colours, people have started going in for artificial colours.

Playing with colours during this festival cannot be avoided completely.

So, the best possible option is to get home within 30 minutes of getting doused in colours, wash yourself clean with soap and water. After that, you can wear a clean set of clothes and go back to play with colours!

Repeat this for as long as the celebration lasts.

Why are the colours used during Holi harmful to the skin and hair?

Synthetic dyes that are used nowadays are harmful. These synthetic dyes are used in tanneries and we have seen how dangerous they can be.

Similarly, synthetic dyes used in coloured powders can also harm the skin and cause allergies.

Do you suggest any precautionary measures to prevent allergies/rashes?

A thin film of oil should be applied to the entire body, including the face, before stepping out to play Holi. Oils like those made from sunflower seeds are of low viscosity and ideal for the purpose.

You can cover the hair with a dupatta/bandana and a polypeptide-based gel can be applied to partially repel colour.

Caring for your eyes is equally important while playing Holi. People wearing contact lens should take them off before they begin to play with the colours. When somebody is spraying water colours on your face, keep your eyes shut to prevent damage to the pupil, cornea and iris.

These colours are believed to be more dangerous when exposed to sunlight – is this true?

This is partially true in the sense that some colours have the capacity to make you sensitive to sunlight.

For example, people can be allergic to hair dyes. All hair dyes contain paraphenylenediamine – the chemical that causes darkening – which can also cause allergies.

Once you get the allergy, your face, hands and wrist can turn black – this applies to the Holi colours as well. The effect differs from person to person.

Are the so-called herbal colours safe?

Vegetable dyes are expensive but less harmful and can be washed away easily. However, herbal colours, in India, are not necessarily purely herbal. The purity of these coloured powders can be tested at places like King’s Institute, Guindy.

People should buy only certified products and must insist on certification while buying them because at times even these so-called herbal colours can be carcinogenic.

Can you suggest first aid tips that would help someone who’s affected before he can see a doctor?
People playing Holi can take a dose of non-drowsy, non-steroidal anti-histamine even before they venture out to play as they can reduce the reaction or extent of allergy, if any.