Causes of greying hair and its treatment

What is greying of hair?

Greying of hair is a common phenomenon associated with ageing. Our hair follicles contain a pigment called melanin. The producers of this pigment closely surround hair follicles and are responsible for our hair colour. As a person grows old, the capability to synthesise the normal amount of melanin pigment diminishes which ultimately results in greying of hair. When there is no more production of melanin, hair turns white. In general, greying of hair is progressive and permanent. Having grey or white hair can be embarrassing as it makes you look much older than you are.

Can stress cause grey hair?

Genetics play a major role in determining the time of your hair turning grey. This premature greying of hair can be attributed to a number of medical conditions, as well as lifestyle choices.

The most common medical reasons are:

Thyroid Disorder: An underactive or overactive thyroid can influence the pigment cells and cause an alteration in the melanin production.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Deficiency of Vitamin B12 has also been linked to premature greying of hair.

Vitiligo: Vitiligo is a disease that is caused when the pigment-producing cells in your skin and hair get damaged. Once the cells in your scalp are damaged, melanin production decreases and hair starts turning grey.

It is important to see a doctor if your hair starts turning grey without pre-existing genetic conditions so that you rule out any underlying disorders.But sometimes lifestyle choices like smoking, stress, faulty diet, nutritional deficiency, can also lead to premature greying of hair. If you are still young and have noticed a grey strand already, you will have to rethink your lifestyle. If you think you need to see a doctor, ensure you do that as soon as possible.

Solutions for greying hair

A couple of studies indicate that supplementing with PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid) and calcium pantothenate can help to restore the natural colour of hair. It is thought that PABA can provide more noticeable results in terms of restoring hair colour when greying of hair is caused by the deficiency of B-type Vitamins or stress. Another clinical research which considered 2411 patients, indicated the effectiveness of treatment with pseudocatalase activated via sunlight.

Dyeing is often the only effective method of changing the color of grey hair. In the absence of a natural way to reverse hair greying, hair colorants are the mainstay of recovering lost hair color. The major types of hair colors used are Temporary (textile dyes), natural coloring (henna), semipermanent and permanent.

The usual age of onset is in the 40’s and appears to be hereditary. It is said that by 50 years of age, 50% of people have 50% grey hair.But nowadays, increasing number of younger people in their early 20’s and teenagers are reporting grey hair.

Dr. Savitha A S
Author:
Dr. Savitha A S
MD (Dermat), DNB, FRGUHS ( DERMATOSURGERY)