Greying of hair is a natural phenomenon that is associated with age. As one grows old, signs of wisdom – or grey hair start showing. Going grey in the forties and fifties is more or less accepted. But sometimes grey hair starts showing at an early age. It gives a young person an older look. Having grey hair before one has even reached 30 years is called premature greying of hair. This causes immense distress to the person.
In this article, I will describe the reasons for premature greying of hair and what to do about it.
What causes premature greying of hair?
Hair colour is given by pigmentation cells called melanin. A high melanin content gives a rich and healthy hair colour. If the melanin content reduces, hair starts losing its colour. There are several reasons why melanin starts reducing at an early age. The main cause is genetic – it may run in the family. Diet, stress and illnesses are other causes that greying of hair occurs. That is why we have always stressed the importance of eating foods high in melanin and vitamins that will help in retaining your natural hair colour.
The causes of early greying of hair are described below:
The condition of premature greying is often hereditary. Certain genes in your body may trigger premature greying. In the future, genetic medicine may well be able to find a cure for this, but at present people suffering from it will just have to deal with it as best as they can, eating well, applying hair colour and camouflaging it.
If a person suffers from lack of nutrition, premature greying will occur. Nutritional deficiencies of minerals and vitamins will cause deficiencies in the hair and make it lose colour. That is why we have always stressed a diet rich in iron and zinc. Vitamin supplements containing A, B and D may help to stop the early greying of hair. Deficiency of vitamin B12 or problems with the pituitary or thyroid gland can cause premature greying. It is thus important to see a doctor to have a proper diagnosis done.
Greying of hair can also be caused by certain illnesses or the medications taken to cure them. A doctor will be able to guide you about the effects of the illnesses and the medicines prescribed for them.
Stress and lifestyle
We have mentioned several times earlier that hair responds to mental stress and faulty lifestyles. Smoking, irregular lifestyles, irregular eating habits, excessive styling and use of chemicals on hair – all these may well trigger changes in the hair and result in various harms, including early greying.
Treatment begins with a diagnosis. The colour of the hair cannot be reversed, but treatment can stop the spread of grey hair. A doctor or a hair expert can examine your scalp and determine the reasons why the condition has occurred. A thorough examination is required, and the doctor will go through patient history, changes in food or medications taken, skin and scalp conditions and so on.
If the condition is hereditary, some nutritional and lifestyle changes will be suggested along with camouflaging strategies. If the condition has occurred from other causes treatment of amino acids that help in hair pigmentation and dietary supplements of vitamin B and mineral supplements will be prescribed. These will help in stopping the spread of the grey hair. The doctor will also prescribe a healthy diet plan and stress reduction strategies.
Though greying of hair is a natural age-linked phenomenon, if it occurs before the time it will be distressing. Some of the reasons like lack of nourishing diet can be corrected, but if it is caused by genetic reasons it may need camouflaging. But it would be important to seek the opinion of an expert or a doctor who can guide you about the actual causes and suggest proper treatment.