Treatment of Vitiligo and Grey Hair

It has been known for some time that people with low levels of catalase enzyme in their body are more likely to develop vitiligo than the average person. Catalase enzyme breaks down naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide in the body. Excessive accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the skin leads to vitiligo, i.e. condition that causes white patches of skin also known as complete skin depigmentation. The latest scientific findings indicate that grey hair is also caused by the elevated build-up of hydrogen peroxide in the skin and in hair follicles. So in other words grey hair is due to the lack of catalase enzyme that breaks down hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide blocks the natural production of the hair pigment melanin which results in bleaching the hair from inside out. BTW hydrogen peroxide happens to be a centuries old hair bleaching agent.

Recently, a molecule named PC-KUS, which is a modified pseudocatalase activated by ultra-violet light, was tested on patients with vitiligo and it showed promising results in re-pigmenting their white skin patches and surprisingly also their eyelashes. This re-pigmentation was achieved by reducing the levels of hydrogen peroxide in the skin. Since one of the possible causes of grey hair is the excessive build-up of hydrogen peroxide in hair follicles, it is assumed that this compound could also be used to treat premature grey hair. Although several media reported on the breakthrough in treating grey hair with sunlight-activated PC-KUS, this study examined its effects only on treating vitiligo and any assumptions regarding treating of grey hair are just hypothetical. As a matter of fact, the role of the hydrogen peroxide may only be one of the factors causing grey hair, considering the fact that it only affects some hair. In each greying person there is white and pigmented hair so it is yet unknown why only some hair follicles lose their ability to produce melanin though all of them are being exposed to the same effects of hydrogen peroxide.

The current weakness of this potential vitiligo treatment seems to be the difficulty of its application. You need to put a kind of sun cream on and activate it by sitting under the narrowband UV lamp which is not very healthy as excessive UV light may trigger skin cancer. You need to do it twice daily for six months to see the first results. It is said that success of this treatment also depends on your tyrosine levels, the lower the better. Tyrosine is used in the synthesis of thyroid hormones and thyroid imbalance also happens to be one of the causes of vitiligo and premature grey hair. Now, imagine, for reversing your hair colour, you would have to put a cream into your hair twice a day and spend time sitting under the ultraviolet lamp and do this for a minimum of six months to see your first white hairs returning to their original hair colour. Apart from all that this would also require you to wash your hair once or even twice a day. Although not entirely impossible this treatment would require a considerable commitment.

Filed under: Gray Hair News and Research