Gray hair is recognized as an inevitable sign of aging. People young and old, however, can experience premature gray hair. Although genes are often to blame, there are other causes of gray hair in young people, most of which are controllable. There are certain steps to take that can help alleviate gray hair growth, some of which require a prescription medication.
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Within each hair strand is a follicle, which originates under the root and the skin of the scalp. Within the hair follicle are cells which determine the color of the hair. These cells produce pigment called melanin. Gray hair is directly linked to melanin cells. Once melanin cell production slows down, the color changes in each hair strand. As a result, a gray to white color replaces the hair strand’s original color.
According to Kids Health, a website of the Nemours Foundation, genes are the primary factor in determining premature gray hair. If your parents turned gray early in life, you are likely to turn gray early as well. Harvard's InteliHealth website reports that a study conducted by Scientific American reveals that ethnicity can also play a role in graying. Caucasians are the most likely to gray young, with an estimated 50 percent turning fully gray by the age of 50.
Gray hair may be the result of hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid stops producing a sufficient amount of hormones. More commonly, however, InteliHealth reports that premature graying in young people is linked to Werner’s Syndrome, a condition in which you show signs of aging more quickly. Vitiligo, hair loss and vitamin B12 deficiencies are also to blame for premature graying.
InteliHealth reports that a study conducted by the British Medical Journal revealed that premature graying increases by four times in young smokers. Psychological trauma can cause a condition called alopecia areata in which darker melanin cell production is temporarily disrupted. Certain medications can also cause premature graying, including methotrexate and lithium.
If premature gray hair runs in your family, Disabled World recommends using a prescription oral drug called Melancor. Taken daily, Melancor helps increase the number of melanin pigments in your hair follicles. Kids Health states that once hair begins turning gray, it takes at least 10 years before all hairs are gray. This is a promising statistic for individuals desiring to minimize or cover up gray hairs. Keep in mind, however, that hair coloring kits do not always take to gray hairs as well as professional coloring sessions. Generally, according to Disabled World, your chances of turning gray increase up to 20 percent every 10 years once you turn 30-years-old.