Kumkum is commonly used for social and religious reasons in India. Kumkum is made with turmeric and slaked lime along with colour enhancing dyes. It is commonly available in powder as well as liquid form. It is applied over the forehead by men as well as women. However it is more commonly used by women. In addition to forehead it is applied over the parting area of the forehead by married women as a sign of their marital status. It also comes in contact with the inter-mammary area following its application over the“mangalsutra". Allergy to kumkum is common in many people and manifests as redness as well as multiple skin lesions. The possible contact allergens in kumkum include turmeric, Sudan-1, 4-aminoazobenzene, brilliant lake red R and canangaoil.
Bindi allergy or kumkum allergy can manifest in a variety of ways. Patients generally present with itching and redness over the forehead or over the area where the kumkum has been applied. Severe itching is noted in some patients. Reddish or whitish patches are also seen. If the patient continues to apply the bindi or kumkum over a prolonged period of time, a whitish patch or a de-pigmented area is seen over the affected area. Prolonged application of these agents leads to considerable damage to the skin. In rare cases malignancy or cancerous changes are also known to occur.
The first and foremost step in the treatment of any allergy is to stop the application of the allergy causing agent, in this case bindi or kumkum. However in the Indian social and cultural setup, this is not always a possible or feasible option. So alternative products should be used in place of bindi or kumkum. Mild steroids are used in the management of such allergies. Generally topical applications or cream formulations are sufficient for the management, but in certain severe conditions oral steroids may also have to be used. Antihistaminics like levocetrizine or hydroxyzine can help in the management of itching thus reducing the discomfort of the patient.
Cultural and socio-religious beliefs influence our daily lives and have the potential to introduce health hazards in our body. Bindi dermatitisis a simple and common condition in the Indian population. With proper care and management we can easily overcome this condition.