New Delhi, Mar 12: You might be all excited about Holi, just a few days away and stockpiling all the bright and beautiful colours but spare a thought about what you will smear on your friends and family.
Shocking as it may sound, the beautiful colours could be acids, alkalis, mica or silica or some more dangerous chemical that may invite future hazards.
Celebrations of the arrival of spring with a carnival of colours, reds, blues, greens, oranges and all imaginable hues, might turn out to be a nightmarish experience.
Acne, rashes, allergies and eye problems for young and old alike could just become the order of the day.
In some cases, the condition might affect a person for life, according to experts.
''The most commonly used colours like blue can cause dermatitis, a condition that often results in swollen, reddened and itchy skin ... high level of discomfort caused is extremely nerve wrecking,'' says Dr Anil Kumar Malik, a senior Dermatologist.
''The colour red for instance contains a base of mercuric sulphite, which is highly toxic and a pigment that completely discolours the skin. Even the black paste can lead to eruption of allergic reactions on sensitive skins,'' he points out.
And if you think using dry colours will be safe and you are being cautious then you are grossly mistaken.
'Gulal' that contains two components, a coloring agent and a base, has mostly heavy metals like lead, chromium, nickel and cadmium.
''It is all the more capable of disturbing human body function and damaging the skin at large,'' says Dr Malik.
Dr Purnima Sood, senior Opthalmologist, says constant colour contact may cause conjunctivitis, obstruct vision and even lead to blindness if not treated properly.
''In case of eye irritation, splashing of water should be followed immediately after the eye comes in contact with harmful agents of colour,'' she advises.
But don't be dissuaded from celebrating Holi, just a few precautions will do.
Dr Malik strongly recommends use of natural and skin friendly and organic colours as they are much safer and reduce hazards to a minimum.
He has a word of caution for people who are at high risk of developing allergies.
''Individuals with a history of eczema or Atopic Dermatitis should use a barrier cream white soft, yellow soft, paraffin prior to playing Holi'' ''In case of any rash or allergy due to the result of such colour contact with the skin, medical aid must be sought immediately instead of self medication,'' advises Dr Malik.
Wearing clothes that fully cover the body will also help avoiding dermatitis at large.
Dr Sood also recommends that people guard against 'gulal' falling into their eyes, as small bits of mica affects the cornea leading to abrasions and loss of sight.
''Contact lens users should refrain from using their lenses during the celebrations as the colours contain poisonous elements like lead, chromium, sulphates and other chemicals... This further leads to eye allergies, puffiness and dryness of the cornea, even blindness if not properly treated.'' And an easy way to ensure that the colour washes off easily and prevents allergic reactions is application of cold cream or oil on all exposed parts followed with sunscreen.