Celebrations and Festivals

Harmful Effects of Holi Colour on Your Child's Skin

Swati Nitin Gupta
All age groups

Created by Swati Nitin Gupta
Updated on Mar 23, 2016

Harmful Effects of Holi Colour on Your Childs Skin

The festival of colours is loved by one and all. Holi is the time of the year when people forget all their animosity towards each other, splash colours on face, hug and greet each other and share sweets. Children, streaked with Holi colours run with excitement. Their hands busy with their water sprinklers, ready to target anybody and everybody who comes in their vicinity. However, these days, the colours used are cheap and synthetic that can prove to be harmful to your child’s skin. We talked to Dr Priyanka Pal Mantri, the leading Dermatologist in Delhi-NCR. Excerpts:

1. What are the harmful effects of colour on our skin?     

Harmful effects of Holi colour on skin can be as varied as a simple skin irritation or allergic rash, abrasions, to increased photosensitivity, tattooing of skin and even long term effects like skin cancers. Hair can become rough and brittle leading to increased breakage besides scalp irritation.

2. What is the best way to protect our child’s skin during the festival?

Best way to protect your children is to oil their hair thoroughly and in case of girls, ensure that you tie the hair up before letting them play with colours. Also it’s important to apply petroleum jelly or a thick moisturiser to their skin and a broad spectrum sunscreen with minimum SPF of 30 to all the exposed parts of the body before playing with any colours so that the affect of the colours can be minimised.

3. What colours should be avoided at all cost?

It’s best to use home-made or natural colours for everybody but especially for children. Organic colours that are also eco-friendly are safer than any chemical artificial colours but be sure they are from a good standard brands. One should completely avoid synthetic colours that contain harmful chemicals like solvents, aromatic compounds, tetrathylines, benzene, heavy metals like lead/mercury/ copper and use mica/alkalis/glass powders as base. These could have some severe harmful effects on your child’s skin. One should absolutely avoid red/green/black/purple/golden and silver colours as they are most harmful for the body.

4. Are wet colours more harmful than dry colours?

Wet colours can be more harmful especially for young children, as they penetrate the skin more deeply causing tattooing and increased photosensitivity and long term cancer risks are also higher. In addition they are the most difficult to get rid off as they don’t come off easily with simple soap and water leading to use of harsh detergents/acetone/Dettol/ scrubbers etc, which strip the skin of essential moisture and cause more harm and irritation.

5. Can you please share some Dos and Don’ts for Holi?

Do’s of safe Holi:

  • Protect the skin hair and eyes.
  • Apply oil on skin and hair as protective cover. Use sun block.
  • Play with natural organic eco-friendly colours.
  • Avoid direct sunlight and colours on pregnant women and small children.
  • Use normal soap and water to wash off followed by thorough application of moisturiser on the skin.

Don’t of safe Holi:

  • Don’t force anyone to play if not willing.
  • Don’t use chemical colours.
  • Avoid pucca wet colours and colours with metals.
  • Don’t use oils and grease to mix colours.
  • Avoid water balloons.
  • Avoid colour fumes.
  • Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Avoid detergents, acetone, dettol on skin to wash off colours.
  • Avoid intense scrubbing of skin to wash off colours.

6. Any special tips for pregnant women and children that you would like to share with us?

Special tips for pregnant women and children: they should avoid playing with colours. However, natural colours made out of organic ingredients and herbal or vegetable dyes are much safer for use. Chemical colours are very harmful not just for skin but also for respiratory system/ bones/ kidney by way of trans-placental transmission. A simple natural sandalwood ‘tika’ is good enough for infants younger than 6months of age.

7. What sort of skin problems can occur?

Long term effects on skin: Many of the chemical colours have carcinogenic potential in long term besides other risks like asthma/ kidney failure/ weakening of bones/ pneumonia etc. So play safe and ecofriendly Holi always!!!

Dr Priyanka Pal Mantri is a Senior Consultant Dermatology and Aesthetic Medicine at Max Gurgaon and Saket New Delhi and Skinfully Yours.

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| Mar 25, 2016


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| Mar 23, 2016

Quite useful information for the parents and pregnant ladies as well.

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