Playing with artificial colours today? Think again

Red is one of the most widely used colours during Holi. But before you apply the colour,spare a thought: If you are using the chemical-based colour,there are chances that you are using what is a potentially carcinogenic agent...

Written by Sameer Kumar Sharma | Ludhiana | Published: March 11, 2009 11:17 pm

Use of chemical colours can cause cancer

Red is one of the most widely used colours during Holi. But before you apply the colour,spare a thought: If you are using the chemical-based colour,there are chances that you are using what is a potentially carcinogenic agent (it may cause cancer) apart from causing skin allergy,warn skin experts.

“The red colour,if chemical-based,contains mercury sulphite. One should,therefore,be aware of the kind of colours they use. It is a well established fact based on umpteen studies that chemical colours are carcinogenic in nature,” said Dr Bimal Kanish,consultant dermatologist at the Christian Medical College and Hospital.

“Though it is rare that they will result in cancer,still it is advisable to avoid the colour and the potential risk related to it. The single application of the chemical colour may not be considered harmful but give the fact that people use these colours year after year and many a time in other forms too,the colours can cause skin cancer too,” he explained.

Besides,skin experts say,chemical-based colours always lead to some kind of ailment or the other and the harmful effects may sometimes be ostensible enough and sometimes they are not. While green colour has copper sulphate which may cause allergy in the eyes,black has lead oxide which is harmful for the eyes. There is always a potential risk of immediate reaction of the chemical used in the colour when they are used mindlessly,says Dr Bimal.

Dr Alka Dogra,head of the Dermatology department at the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital,advises the use of herbal colours instead. “It’s a great festival. There is a fear of chemical colours,but it does not mean we do not celebrate the festival of colours. We should be careful to choose herbal colours in place of chemical colours. They may be a little more expensive but then they’ll save you from rashes,itching and irritation in the eyes.

Telling about other possible solutions,Dr Dogra lists the precautions,“Application of oil,either olive oil or coconut oil on the hair and exposed body parts can prevent the colours penetrating deep into the skin. It is also advisable to use moisturising cream and sunscreen as people mostly go out in the sun. The key to enjoy the festival colourfully is to use natural and safe colours which maximises the fun.”

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