Many people face the issue of premature graying of hair. While many reasons can cause it, genetics is considered the main cause behind premature graying (1). Pollution, food habits, stress can also cause this condition.
The graying of hair before the 20s is considered premature and can signify underlying health conditions and syndromes. In this article, we discuss all you need to know about premature graying, ways to control it, and more. Read on to know more.
What Is Premature Graying Of Hair?
Premature graying of hair (PGH) is when your hair turns gray before 20 years in Caucasians and 30 years in African Americans. While genetics is the main reason behind it, premature graying can be triggered by multiple other factors (1). Let’s take a look.
Is Premature Graying A Medical Issue? What Are The Causes?
Premature graying is not a medical issue. However, it is associated with multiple underlying conditions and syndromes. The factors that cause premature graying are:
1. Thyroid Disorders
2. Autoimmune Disorders
Premature graying is linked to autoimmune disorders, such as vitiligo and pernicious anemia, and premature aging syndromes like Werner’s syndrome (2).
3. Psychological And Oxidative Stress
Research shows that psychological stress triggered by emotional factors can increase the oxidative load or oxidative stress. This also plays a role in premature graying. Other factors like pollution and UV exposure also cause oxidative stress, leading to premature graying (1).
4. Diet And Nutritional Deficiencies
A study involving 35 schoolchildren found that the levels of nutrients like calcium, ferritin, and vitamin D3 were low in those with prematurely gray hair (2). Low serum iron, copper, and zinc concentrations also play a role in premature graying (3). However, further research is needed to conclude this.
An imbalanced diet causes the body to create free radicals, making your hair turn gray.
Smoking is harmful for your overall health and is also linked to premature graying. A study found a possible connection between premature graying before the age of 30. It concluded that smokers could have an earlier onset of graying than non-smokers (4).
6. Hair Products
Hair products, such as chemical bleaches and colors, often contain chemicals like hydrogen peroxide. A study demonstrated that hydrogen peroxide could accumulate in the hair follicles, affect the hair pigments, and cause graying (5).
Consult a doctor to determine the exact reason for your premature gray hair. Early diagnosis is crucial for treatment. Meanwhile, if you want, you may follow the tips below to hide the gray strands.
How To Conceal Premature Gray Hair
- Use Tinting Sprays: Choose a color closer to the natural hair color for even coverage.
- Curl Your Hair: Curly or wavy hair makes the gray roots and strands less noticeable. You may even style your hair in French braids to hide them.
- Use Hair Accessories: Hair bands, headbands, bandanas, and scarves can effectively hide the grays.
You may also try home remedies to prevent premature graying. Check out the recipes in the next section.
Home Remedies To Prevent Premature Graying
1. Indian Gooseberry And Fenugreek
You Will Need
- 3-5 Indian gooseberries (chopped)
- ½ cup of coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon of fenugreek paste
- Boil the Indian gooseberry pieces with coconut oil for a few minutes on low heat.
- Once the oil cools down, mix the fenugreek paste.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve and store in a glass jar.
- Massage your scalp and hair with the oil solution.
- Leave it on for at least 30 minutes or more.
- Wash off with a mild shampoo.
- Follow the routine 2-3 times a week.
2. Henna And Coffee Dye
Henna is traditionally used for conditioning and tinting the hair. Often, coffee powder is added to henna to darken the tint. This can be a natural alternative to chemical hair dyes.
You Will Need
- 1 packet of henna powder
- 1 tablespoon of instant coffee
- 1 tablespoon of almond oil
- Mix coffee and water.
- Add the henna powder to the coffee and combine to form a paste.
- Cover the cup and let it rest for 2-3 hours.
- Once done, mix the almond oil with it.
- Apply the paste from root to tip.
- Cover your head with a shower cap and leave it on for an hour.
- Rinse off with a mild shampoo.
3. Ridge Gourd Oil
Ridge gourd oil is often used to prevent premature graying. However, there are no clinical studies to prove the efficacy of the oil on gray hair.
You Will Need
- 1 cup of sundried ridge-gourd
- 1 cup of coconut oil
- Soak the ridge gourd pieces in coconut oil for 3-4 days.
- Boil the pieces and the oil for 10 minutes.
- Strain the oil solution and store it in a glass jar.
- Massage your scalp and hair with the oil for 5-10 minutes.
- Leave it on for at least 30 minutes.
- Rinse it off with a mild shampoo.
- Follow the routine 2-3 times a week.
While treating the underlying condition (if any) causing premature graying is crucial, it is also important that you follow a balanced lifestyle, as a lot of lifestyle factors may also contribute to premature graying. Here are a few tips to stay healthy and manage premature graying.
Ways To Manage Premature Graying
1. Consume A Balanced Diet
Nutritional deficiency is one of the factors responsible for premature graying. Get yourself tested for any deficiencies and eat your way to health. Follow a diet consisting of whole grains, vegetables, seafood, poultry, dairy, and fruits. Consult a doctor and take supplements to cover vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Avoid processed foods. This will keep your health in check and help prevent premature graying.
2. Prioritize Your Mental Health
Stress turns your locks gray. Hence, take some time out and indulge in any activity that calms your mind. Listen to music, burn your stress (and calories) with exercise, travel, read books, try yoga and meditation, get a pet, or take up new hobbies. You may take professional help and reach out to counselors and therapists.
3. Focus On Overall Well-Being
Quit smoking. It is good for your lungs, hair, and overall well-being. Take care of your hair indulge in spa treatments, use hair nourishing masks and oils, and follow a hair care routine. This helps keep your hair healthy and prevent premature graying.
Premature gray hair is largely caused by genetics. Other conditions, such as a stressful lifestyle, the prevalence of autoimmune disorders, dietary deficiencies, and other underlying medical conditions, may also induce premature gray hair. You can use tinting sprays, hair accessories, or try a few home remedies to deal with this issue. Consult your healthcare provider to figure out the specific cause behind this condition. They will help you plan out a treatment program. Stay on top of your general health and consider the suggestions mentioned in this article to prevent premature hair graying.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you reverse premature graying of hair?
While premature graying caused due to genetic factors may not be reversed, taking precautions and having a balanced diet may help reverse graying caused by nutritional deficiencies or other underlying medical conditions.
Can anxiety cause gray hair?
Yes, anxiety, stress, and emotional imbalance may lead to hair graying.
Does plucking gray hair increase it?
Plucking gray hair will only result in gray hair regrowth in the same hair follicle. It wouldn’t affect other hair follicles or hair strands.
- Premature greying of the hair may occur due to thyroid disorders, stress, and nutritional deficiency.
- Using tinting sprays and curling your hair are a few ways to make your grey hair less noticeable.
- Applying ridge gourd oil or Indian gooseberry with fenugreek seeds on your hair can prevent premature greying.
- Eating a balanced diet and prioritizing your mental health will keep grey hair at bay.
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- Premature Graying of Hair: Review with Updates
- Epidemiological and Investigative Study of Premature Graying of Hair in Higher Secondary and Pre-University School Children
- Serum iron, zinc, and copper concentration in premature graying of hair
- Hyperactivation of sympathetic nerves drives depletion of melanocyte stem cells
- Senile hair graying: H2O2-mediated oxidative stress affects human hair color by blunting methionine sulfoxide repair
- Preclinical and Clinical Studies Demonstrate That the Proprietary Herbal Extract DA-5512 Effectively Stimulates Hair Growth and Promotes Hair Health
- A study of phytochemical constituents and pharmacological actions of Trigonella foenum-graecum: A review
- Pharmacologic interventions in aging hair
- Oxidative Stress in Ageing of Hair
- Smokers hair: Does smoking cause premature hair graying