We used to think of gray hair as an inevitable part of aging, but hair pigment loss can happen at any age. Thus, gray hair usually appears after a strong experience of stress, fear or grief. Also, gray hair can be caused by genetics or hormones. The main causes of early gray hair are mentioned below.
As a general rule, the first gray hairs appear in people between 30 and 40 years old. Earlier and more pronounced gray hair is a reason to see a trichologist, since a change in pigmentation can indicate various health problems.
What are gray hairs?
First of all, it is necessary to understand the mechanism of the appearance of gray hair. Hair acquires a certain color thanks to the pigment melanin, which is produced by special cells – melanocytes. Over time, the melanin decreases and the hair becomes discolored, taking on a white or gray color. Doctors distinguish several types of hair loss.
- Fuzzy: Gray hair appears evenly throughout the head, as well as on the body, eyebrows, and eyelashes.
- Focal – gray hair forms in a certain area of the head.
By color and texture:
- Gray – the hair becomes smooth and thin, as its scales become thinner and are located at a considerable distance from each other.
- White (glassy): the hair becomes more rigid, thicker and stronger, since its cuticle is compacted, the scales close and fit perfectly.
- Grey-White: The hair is of medium thickness and stiffness, because its scales are of standard thickness and slightly set back from each other, giving an uneven color to the axis.
Causes of premature gray hair
However, the causes of gray hair in young and mature people will be different. Thus, older people have gray hair that turns gray due to the natural aging of melanocytes, and younger people due to cell death or decreased activity for various reasons.
If our relatives became gray at a very young age, it is very likely that we will see gray hair quite early. So, scientists from the UK found that the age at which gray hair appears depends on the work of the IRF4 gene, which is responsible for the production of melanin.
The number of melanocytes depends on the organs of the endocrine system and, above all, on the thyroid gland. That’s why the hormonal problems often lead to loss of hair pigmentation. We must be especially attentive to mood swings, weight problems, atypical heartbeats, sweating and swelling in the neck in the context of the appearance of gray hair.
Premature gray hair can appear due to autoimmune diseases, for example:
- Celiac disease – gluten intolerance;
- Alopecia areata: hair loss, in which it is difficult for growing hair to retain color.
- Vitiligo is a skin pigmentation disorder.
- Neurofibromatosis is a hereditary disease that is accompanied by the development of tumors and the appearance of brown spots on the skin.
4. Lack of vitamins and minerals
Experts see a connection between early gray hair and the deficiency of certain substances and vitamins:
- vitamins of groups B and D.
Various medications have a side effect in the form of the appearance of gray hair. If our premature gray hairs are associated with precisely this factor, then the color should definitely return a couple of months after the therapy ends.
Also, stress leads to hair loss, which makes the melanocytes work harder and wear out faster.