Holi is just round the corner, India’s festival of colours that heralds spring and harvest--the season of hope and new beginnings in life and there is a splash of colors everywhere. Everybody is gearing up to enjoy the riot of colors and water and have simple pure fun.
But one must remember that these colors which are so bright and attractive have a high chemical content and can do a lot of damage especially to the eyes and skin.
Artificial colors available as powder or paste or water colors are made of chemicals which can be extremely harmful. Apart from causing irritation, they can also cause toxicity in higher doses. The commonly used chemicals include copper sulphite for green color, lead oxide in black color, mica granules in gulal and various other heavy metals. These can cause skin allergies, dermatitis, rhinitis, asthma and allergic pneumonitis.
It is indeed unfortunate that a festival of goodwill and celebration can turn into one of grievous injury and pain if we are not careful. After holi, a lot of people have to rush to the hospital with significant damage not only to the eyes and skin but other problems as well.
Some helpful and safety tips for the eye
· Ensure that your eyes remain protected at all times. Use sunglasses to protect your eyes from coloured water.
· Use a hat or cap to protect your hair from being coloured with strong chemical dyes.
· Apply a thick layer of coconut oil on your body and hair so that the colour doesn't stick and it can be washed off easily later. While washing off the colour, use lukewarm water and keep your eyes tightly closed.
· If you are traveling, keep the car windows tightly shut. Better still; avoid traveling on the day of playing colours.
· For children use non toxic colours
The wide range of eye injuries during holi includes:
* Allergic conjunctivitis
* Chemical burns
* Corneal abrasion
* Blunt trauma to the eye
If these colors enter the eye while playing, they cause mild redness and irritation which usually subsides after washing copiously with water. However if there is intense pain and burning sensation, one must get an opinion from an ophthalmologist. Also if the clarity of vision is affected, an eye doctor must be consulted.
The granular particles which make the colors shine brightly are actually quite toxic and can cause damage to the cornea in the form of a corneal abrasion. A person who gets a corneal abrasion will have severe pain and watering and if not treated by an en expert may develop an ulcer or infection.
Water balloons can me most dangerous and cause blunt trauma to the eye which may lead to bleeding in the eye, lens subluxation or dislocation, macular edema or retinal detachment. This may lead to loss of vision or even loss of eye. These are all eye emergencies and need to be looked into immediately.
Natural colors made from home-based stuff are a much better and healthier option. These can be easily made and offer a safer option to the synthetic colors. Haldi mixed with besan or flour can give a yellow color and work as a face-mask at the same time! White petals of tesu/palash can be used to obtain a saffron color. Beetroot soaked in water provides a bright magenta color. Henna powder, gulmohar and hibiscus flowers etc can also be used to make different colors.
Encourage and motivate your friends to play a safe Holi this year.