Doctors have advised to avoid mass Holi celebration in pool parties and smearing colour on facial skin.
“As we welcome our annual Holi Festival, the question on everyone’s mind is how to celebrate the festival in the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak. I would advise avoid celebrating Holi in mass festival gatherings or pool parties. Enjoy the festival with your family members at your home with organic natural colors and avoid smearing them on facial skin,” said Dermatologist and dermato-laser surgeon Dr.Vikas Sharma, Chief Consultant, National Skin Hospital, Mansa Devi Complex.
Doctors stated that it not only the Holi time, but Mid-February to Mid -March is also the peak season for infectious diseases, such as the viral skin infections, seasonal and H1N1 flu, mononucleosis, colds & coughs. People with infectious diseases start shedding the virus even before they experience the full effect of the illness.
Every year after Holi festival, OPDs of all hospitals tend to swell up with people complaining of skin and respiratory disorders. Skin allergies, skin infections, dermatitis, skin eczemas and respiratory diseases are the major problems that people tend to face. With seasonal change, viral infections are already on the rise.
“COVID-19 is a new virus, the lack of immunity in the population (and the absence as yet of an effective vaccine) means that COVID-19 has the potential to spread extensively. The current data seems to show that we all are susceptible to catching this disease.
Since Holi festival also involves direct skin contact and people tend to smear colors especially on facial skin close to eyes, nose and mouth. Eyes, nose, mouth – all those mucous membranes are the portal of entry into the body for a virus like Covid-19 or SARS,” the doctor added stating that “high total suspended particulate concentrations occur during Holi that may also cause or aggravate adverse health effects like skin and respiratory irritations thus making them more prone and susceptible to catching virus. Children, Elderly and pregnant females are more susceptible.
Doctors cautioned that those who are already having Atopic Dermatitis, Bronchial Asthma and Skin eczemas should completely avoid playing Holi with synthetic colors.
“Medical Research on Synthetic Holi colors have found them containing a considerable amount of particles with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than 10 µm and they show a close association with human leukocytes, a pro-inflammatory potential, they can have cytotoxic effects in higher concentration and can induce an oxidative burst in human granulocytes and monocytes thus making them extremely susceptible to viral infections,” he said.
Dr Sharma highlighted that the synthetic colors contain toxic and poisonous chemicals. Often, they also contain heavy metals, acids, alkalis, powdered glass, asbestos, chalk paste etc.
“The black paste has lead oxide, Green has copper sulphate, and red has mercury sulphate. Messages about how to protect oneself from the virus are doing rounds on social media. Some of these are genuine while others carry false information,” the doctor said.
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