10 Tips to keep your child safe on Holi

Holi is a festival of colors celebrated in spring. Colours used in Holi are meant to reflect the various hues of the spring season. There is a lot of song and dance and consumption of traditional sweets and bhang. Children specially look forward to this festival as it is a legitimate excuse to play in water and get wet !! However one must be aware of certain issues common during this festival.

The holi colours: Traditionally, holi was played with natural colours and flowers. With urbanisation these natural colours are being replaced by cheaper and easily available synthetic dyes,introducing more intense and variety of colours but putting your child at more risk in the bargain.

How do colours affect parts of body?

Skin: Most of these chemicals are phototoxic (promote skin damage in the sun) and provoke skin allergies. The skin reactions may manifest immediately or after a few hours or even days. Longer the exposure more is the damage. Common symptoms of skin allergies is itching, redness, burning sensation and dryness.

The pre-existing skin problems like eczema and acne may worsen with exposure to the colours.

Eye: The colours can cause irritation, redness and watering in the eyes as well due to chemicals. The water balloons can also cause dangerous trauma to the eyes leading to internal eye bleeding, damage and even blindness.

Respiratory Allergies: The colour particles suspended in air can be inhaled by the children and aggravate breathing troubles, cough and wheezing. Children with asthma may need to up their doses of inhalers temporarily to prevent an acute attack.

Bhang effects: Avoid giving intoxicant (bhang) laden sweets/ drinks to children and keep them out of reach, as it can cause drowsiness and altered behaviour in children. Bhang is cannabis and is added in thandai, laddoos, gujiyas etc. which may be tempting for children.


  1. DO NOT LEAVE THE LITTLE ONES UNATTENDED EVEN FOR A MINUTE, especially near buckets of water, water bodies. Drowning is a real hazard

  2. Avoid use of loose colours sold on the street, use safe and organic colours.

  3. Avoid use of dark colours and metallic colours completely. Children can help in preparation of their own “Holi” colours from natural and safe ingredients such as beetroot or hibiscus flowers (red), turmeric(yellow), spinach(green), sandalwood powder, flowers (e.g. marigold, rose petals)

  4. Apply coconut oil, petroleum jelly or moisturiser to your child before playing Holi. This might help reduce the absorption of colour to some extent. It will also make it easier to take the colour off afterwards. Also, apply oil to the hair so that residue from the dyes does not get stuck to your hair and scalp

  5. Use full sleeved clothes so as to minimise exposure to colours

  6. Keep a bucket or two of plain, uncoloured water handy, for emergencies. If your child accidentally gets colour in her mouth, wash off immediately with lots of water, ask them to gargle with clean water if possible. Avoid giving salt water to induce vomiting in children. Watch for vomiting, stomach pain, breathlessness thereafter. See your doctor if any of the above

  7. If colour enters the eyes, wash thoroughly with clean water, do not rub the eyes. If any pain, irritation persists, see the doctor immediately. In case of injury due to water balloons, do get your little one to the doctor immediately as the eye may seem normal externally even in case of internal injury

  8. Child safety: Instruct the children to avoid wandering away or going with strangers

  9. Teach them not to forcefully put colour on unwilling people, pets or babies.

  10. Teach them proper use of water guns or pichkaris


  1. After Holi, take a bath as early as possible. Use a normal bathing soap. Longer the contact with colours more is the risk of allergies

  2. Avoid using detergent, spirit, nail polish remover, kerosene or acetone to remove the colours. These are strong irritants and would aggravate skin damage

  3. Use a good moisturising cream immediately after the bath because the colours andprolonged contact with water dry out the skin

  4. Restrict going out in the sun for long periods with the colour on, aggravates the skin damage

  5. Consult your doctor if you see any rashes or any skin irritation

I'm Breastfeeding my baby, it is safe to play with organic colours?

To some extent YES, however,

  • Clean and wash off the colours properly before handling your little one. Even a tiny exposure to the colour on your body may cause a reaction in the delicate skin of babies

  • Use padded bras to avoid nipples and breasts getting stained with colour as it can enter the baby’s mouth directly

  • Avoid bhang laden sweets and drinks, it can enter the breastmilk from your blood and cause intoxication in the babies

  • It is best to keep the baby indoors as powdered colours thrown in the air may be inhaled and cause breathing problems in the baby

  • Loud music may disturb the baby and make them irritable and anxious

  • Dress your baby completely and avoid application of colours to your baby, maybe keep rose petals to shower on the baby or a small sandalwood tikka may be applied to just keep the traditions of the festival

  • Keep your baby away from buckets/drums of water and do not leave them unsupervised

Disclaimer : "This handout is made on standard medical guidelines and is purely informative. Not to be used for treatment.

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