Causes of Premature Gray Hair

At some point in our lives we will all experience the onset of gray hair. Contrary to popular belief gray hair is not always related to person’s old age. The first gray hair can occur in our teens but some individuals will not be bothered by gray hair until a very ripe age.

Everybody is different but the pigment in our hair follicles is generated in the same way. The cells in our hair follicles called melanocytes generate pigment called melanin. This gives our hair its characteristic colour. When these melanocytes stop producing the pigment the result is white hair. The white hair blending with your pigmented darker hair gives the impression of gray hair. In reality the gray hair is not gray but white.

The main reason for our hair behaving this way is heredity. If your mom or dad started turning gray at a young age then the chances are you may also suffer from premature graying. Obviously, age plays a big part in the graying process. The pigment in the hair shaft is generated from the cells at the base of the hair’s root and as we grow older these cells start producing less pigment until they cease producing the pigment altogether and we end up with white hair.

Gray hair can also be the result of a medical condition. If you are deficient in B vitamins or suffer from a thyroid imbalance your hair can also start going gray prematurely. However, the sudden appearance of gray hair is not due to psychological shock or trauma. Studies have shown that if this happens then it is typically caused by telogen effluvium. What happens here is that the pigmented hair stops growing and starts shedding before it effects the growth of gray hairs, giving the impression of hair turning gray overnight. Telogen effluvium causes hair thinning but seldom leads to complete baldness.

Filed under: General Gray Hair Issues