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Causes and Treatment of Premature Gray Hair

There is no question that gray hair is one the most apparent signs of aging. Even people with weak eyesight, like those refusing to wear glasses who would not see wrinkles on the face of a 100 years old, can notice your white hairs immediately. That is why gray hair is in all cultures associated with old age. On average, Caucasians start turning gray around the age of 34 whereas Asians and Africans keep their original hair color 14 years longer. Gray hair may sometimes be a symptom of another medical condition but in most cases it is no reason for concern.

Why Hair Turns Gray

Hair follicles contain pigment-producing cells called melanocytes that give color to our hair. As we age, these cells gradually lose their pigment-producing capacity and some hairs start turning gray. Once the melanocytes stop producing pigment altogether the hair becomes white. This process does not take too long, so most hairs on your scalp are either fully pigmented or white. Gray color of your hair is only a kind of optical illusion, a result of blending of white with fully pigmented hair. Your hair can turn white whether you are 20 or 80, age makes no difference, the reason is the same – your melanocytes are no longer producing pigment. This change is irreversible. But, when this occurs, it has usually nothing to do with your overall health. In fact, it has been found that white hair is thicker in diameter and grows faster than normal pigmented hair but we do not know why this happens. Furthermore, white hair also seems to be more resistant to damage caused by dihydrotestosterone and resulting hair loss and is hardly ever affected by alopecia areata.

Causes of Gray Hair

Old age is obviously the most common cause of gray hair. However, if a person’s hair is more than 50% gray by the age of 30, we speak of premature graying. The cause of most cases of premature gray hair lies in our genes and it has not been found to result in or to be indicative of any other medical condition. This genetically predetermined hair disorder is known as “premature gray hair” and it can cause hair in some people turn gray already in their teens. Other causes of early gray hair include chronic vitamin B deficiency, vitiligo, thyroid disorder and anemia where graying is a secondary symptom and sometimes reversible if the underlying problem has been resolved. However, genetically determined premature gray hair is not reversible at the moment in the true sense of the word and it can only be covered. Constant tension, excessive stress and smoking can contribute to premature graying but they are not the cause.

Treating Gray Hair

Since we are yet unable to rejuvenate dead melanocytes, there is no cure to prevent or reverse genetically determined premature graying. Despite that many people waste their money on anti-gray hair scams that promise to bring back their original hair color naturally from within. The truth is, however, you can only change the gray or white color of your hair from outside by covering it. You can use semi-permanent or permanent hair dyes or progressive gray hair colorants such as Grecian formula and its likes. The former will cover your hair suddenly and completely whereas the latter does it gradually and leaves a certain portion of your hair gray for more natural appearance.

Anti-Gray Hair Pills

All anti-gray hair pills you can buy today are useless and the best you can expect them to do is to make your hair a little bit darker and, perhaps, to improve the shine of your hair. Most of them contain common vitamins and minerals believed to promote healthy hair and Fo-Ti. Fo-Ti is a Chinese medicinal herb dubbed He Shou Wu (Mr Black Hair) and all it does, except for frequently causing diarrhea, is to make your hair a shade darker.

Covering Gray Hair

When it comes to covering gray hair, most women opt for permanent hair dyes whereas men prefer more subtle solutions, such as progressive hair colorants, which work slower and leave a portion of their hair white. However, as a result of regulatory changes which forced producers of progressive gray hair colorants to replace lead-acetate with less harmful but also less suitable copper and silver compounds, these products lost their effectiveness. An alternative solution is to use semi-permanent hair dyes like Touch of Gray and, especially, Men Perfect from Schwarzkopf, which can be applied at home and, if used correctly, will not cover all your gray after the first application.