Tips to play Healthy & Safe Holi

The cruel chemicals utilized as a part of Holi hues can be destructive to your skin, hair and nails. Here’s the means by which to keep away from the issues with some preventive tips

Holi maybe a joyous festival of bright colours but it’s dealing with the aftermath which makes it unholy. A huge pitfall is that the colours or rather the harsh chemicals used in most of the colours are really harmful to your skin, hair and nails. The colours that seep into your scalp and pores of the skin can result in rough and fizzy hair, acne, rashes, cracks in the skin — the list is endless.

Traditionally, the festival was all about natural colours made with flowers and herbs. But later these were replaced with dyes, chemicals, heavy metals and sometimes even with acids, mica, glass powder and dangerous alkalis.

So, with Holi around the corner, let’s ensure to make it enjoyable, without having to worry about handling fast colours, dry skin or rash. These are some basic tips to enjoy it without worrying.

Colours and chemicals

Even though we intend to use organic and chemical-free or herbal colours, we can’t check what others are using. Therefore, we need to prepare our skin accordingly as chemicals used in some Holi colours can often cause a serious skin problems. So if you feel itchy and have rashes on your skin do not scratch. If there are any open wounds or cuts on the body then use a band aid or bandage to cover these before the D-day. This is to avoid entry and absorption of harmful chemicals in the blood stream that could later have more damaging effects. The toxins used in some colours can result in skin allergies and irritation leading to chronic skin eczemas etc.

Pre-Holi precautions

Women should be extra careful. The precautions should start at least a week before Holi. They should avoid any procedure that involves opening of the pores or damage to the barrier of skin. These include threading, waxing, peeling, any laser treatment, etc. Also, moisturise your skin well if it is dry, until the texture is normal as dry skin allow chemicals to penetrate easily.

Before stepping out

Before stepping out, oil yourself from head to toe. Massage your body either with coconut or mustard or vitamin E oil. Slather enough oil on the skin to leave it shiny and slippery. This would reduce absorption of colours into scalp, skin and will also prevent dryness. Oiling in places like behind the ear, between finger tips, near finger nails is very important.

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Wear cotton clothes that will cover most of your skin. This way you will have less of skin to battle with while removing colours later. Cover your head with a colourful bandana or cap. This way you can make a fashion statement and keep your hair free from colours as well.

To protect nails, trim these short and paint. Once it is dry, cover the nails with the petroleum jelly. Rashes from colours are more frequent on exposure to the sun, so use enough sunscreen on all exposed parts, including a balm on lips with SPF.

For eyes, don’t wear lenses. In fact, completely avoid wearing lenses or glasses. But if you cannot do without glasses, just be careful while applying colour. In fact, wear protective sunglasses while playing Holi. An old pair of sunglasses is a good idea that also looks fashionable. Always, wash your eyes clean with cold water and see an eye specialist if the irritation persists after few hours of Holi.

Apart from these precautions, hydrate yourself internally too and drink lots of water, thandai and juices. Avoid alcohol as it dehydrates your skin further.

Removing colours

The ideal way is to dust all dry colours away with hand or a piece of cloth gently without rubbing the skin. To remove fast colours, slather oil on the skin and relax. You can even apply a homemade pack of besan, curd, turmeric and rose water and wait until it dries. This will help in removing stubborn colours from the skin and especially the face.

While bathing, stand under running water for five to 10 minutes. Don’t scrub too hard and don’t scratch anywhere because the friction of rubbing would aid in penetration of colours. The colours would fade in a day or two.

Holi colours often leave your skin dry. Therefore, after the shower, pat dry your skin to leave it slightly damp and apply some thick body lotion to trap the water on the surface of skin. Repeat moisturiser each time your skin feels dry. Oil your hair overnight if needed. Even after a week of Holi, keep moisturising your skin generously. Avoid using toners, scrubs, or bleaching creams. Drink lots of water to hydrate your skin well. Most importantly, wear sunscreen lotions while stepping out in sun. Visit a dermatologist immediately if your skin is red, irritated, burning, itching or breaking out after the festival. Have a safe and happy Holi!

— The writer is dermatologist, Sir Gangaram Hospital, New Delhi

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