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What Causes Grey Hair?

Posted Mar 17 2010 9:42pm

At some point in our lives we will all experience grey hair.  While many people think this is strictly due to age, there are other causes of grey hair. Many people develop grey hair as early as their teenage years and others not until their later years of life.

What causes grey hair

The Cause of Grey Hair

Our hair is initially white; it is colored by pigmentation generated in the hair follicles called melanocytes.  The shade of hair is determined by the amount of melanin present in the hair follicles.  The more melanin present the darker the hair will be.

Grey hair is attributed to the decrease of melanocytes in the hair follicles. As we age the melanocytes lose the ability to make pigment which colors our hair and the color is absent from new hair. Many factors such as heredity, poor diet, poor health and stress can affect the production of melanocytes in our hair follicles.  These conditions can lead to grey hair.

Conditions that Cause Grey Hair More Quickly than Normal

There are some medical conditions that may cause hair to turn grey earlier and at a faster rate than normal.  Conditions that affect the thyroid including Hashimoto’s disease, Grave’s disease, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have been associated with premature grey hair. A deficiency of B12 whether it is low in the diet or malabsorption can lead to grey hair. This can occur in conditions like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, tapeworms and after gastric bypass surgery. Early menopause and cigarette smoking have been linked to increases in grey hair. Another condition known as Vitiligo which affects the melanocytes in the skin can cause you to prematurely have grey hair.

What You Can Do About Grey Hair

For many people the appearance of grey hair is not a problem.  For others this is not acceptable.  You can color your hair, although most grey hair is difficult to color because of the decrease in melanin; it makes it very resistant to accepting color.

Another option to treat or reverse grey hair is medication which promotes the production of melanocytes in the hair follicle. Speak to your doctor for recommendations.

Some home remedies are said to stop graying.  One method is by massaging the scalp with coconut oil and lemon daily for at least 15 minutes. Another treatment is the use of amla paste. The use of amla paste massaged into the scalp is reported to reverse not only graying of the hair but hair loss as well.

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