Having white hair before the normal age of graying can be caused by a variety of factors. In some cases, this can be due to genetics, environmental factors, or a combination of both. In other cases, it can be due to a medical condition or a traumatic event.
In this article, we’ll look at the different reasons why your hair may turn white prematurely:
Hair turning white at a young age, often referred to as premature graying, is the result of a loss of melanin in the hair shafts. Melanin is the pigment that gives hair its color and also provides some protection against sun damage.
There are several factors that can cause a reduced amount of melanin to be produced, resulting in hair becoming lighter or graying more quickly:
- Genetics can play a role in premature graying, with some people predisposed to losing melanin production at an early age.
- In addition, health conditions such as thyroid disease and autoimmune disorders can cause stress on the body which may lead to early graying.
- Lastly, certain lifestyle choices such as smoking and excessive use of dyes and other chemical compounds on the hair may also contribute to premature graying.
Turning gray or white hair at an early age is a common occurrence, with up to 20 percent of people experiencing this phenomenon. Generally, the average age for graying is in the mid-30s, but it can vary significantly depending on many factors. For some people, their hair may begin to gray as early as their teens while others may not notice until later in life, like those in their 40s and 50s.
The exact cause of premature graying is still largely unknown; however, genetics can play a role and some evidence suggests an association between early graying and autoimmune conditions. In addition to these potential causes, environmental factors such as smoking, poor diet and excessive stress might also contribute to premature graying.
It’s important to note that there are no reliable treatments for reversing premature graying and it’s best to consult your doctor if you are worried about how quickly your hair is changing color. The best course of action usually involves finding ways to improve your health overall through lifestyle modifications such as:
- Changes in diet
- Exercise routines
- Reducing stress levels
Hair turning white at a young age is a phenomenon that affects people all over the world. It is often associated with stress or shock and can be a symptom of certain medical conditions. This article will break down some of the common causes of premature greying of the hair.
From genetics to stress, we will take a look at what can be triggering this change in hair color at an earlier age:
Genetics are a major cause of white hair in young people—the coloring gene can be passed down from a relative, and it has been linked to a gene mutation identified as the IRF4 gene. This can cause some people to develop grey hair much earlier than others; one study suggested that this mutation appears primarily in men. While irf4 is the main gene responsible for premature graying, at least 20 genes have been identified with correlation to prematurely graying hair.
Other potential causes of premature graying also include stress and autoimmune conditions such as poliosis, which is an inflammatory disorder of the scalp that can result in white patches or streaks of hair. Additionally, certain medications such as chemotherapy agents and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been known to contribute to premature greying if they are taken over an extended period of time.
Finally, certain nutritional deficiencies—such as vitamin B12 and folate—may also be associated with premature graying or balding due to their role in collagen production, melanin production and other metabolic processes associated with healthy hair growth.
Stress is one of the most common causes for hair to turn white prematurely. Stress-induced anxiety has been linked to excessive production of cortisol, a hormone which plays a role in keeping hair from turning gray. Cortisol stimulates the melanocytes in the skin, which produce melanin (the pigment which gives our hair its natural color). An unusually high amount of cortisol in your body can cause some or all of your melanocytes to die, leaving behind white or gray-colored hair.
In addition to producing excessive amounts of cortisol, stress can also deplete your body’s levels of certain vitamins that are vital for maintaining healthy levels of melanin – namely vitamins B3, B5 and C. Moreover, stress has been known to alter the pH balance within your bloodstream, which can weaken the follicle and lead to premature aging.
The best way to prevent white or gray hairs caused by stress is to reduce stress levels. Meditation and mindfulness activities have been shown to help keep cortisol levels low as well as improving our overall wellbeing. Additionally, it may be beneficial to supplement with essential vitamins (such as B3,B5 and C) that have been linked with healthier hair pigmentation and maintenance.
Certain medical conditions
Certain medical conditions, such as vitiligo, alopecia areata, and hypopigmentation, can cause hair to turn white prematurely.
- Vitiligo is a disorder in which pigment cells responsible for hair color die off, resulting in patches of prematurely gray or white hair.
- Alopecia areata causes whitening of hairs when hair follicles on the scalp are destroyed by the body’s own immune system.
- Hypopigmentation causes patches of lighter skin and premature graying of affected hairs due to melanin deficiency within the chosen area.
There is also an autosomal dominant disorder called poliosis that causes an individual’s hairs to turn white before age 20. With this condition, a single mutation will cause every new hair strand replaced after birth to be born without melanin pigmentation present. This can occur on any area of the body where hair grows. Additionally, some people with poliosis will show evidence of grey or partial whitening of the eyebrows and eyelashes prior to age twenty as well.
There are several risk factors that can cause a person’s hair to turn white prematurely. These risk factors can range from medical conditions to external factors such as lifestyle or environment.
In this section, we will go over the various risk factors that can cause a person’s hair to turn white at a young age:
Age is one of the most common risk factors associated with white hair. Generally, it is more common for people to develop white hair as they age, but some people may experience premature graying at a much younger age. There are many possible factors which can cause premature graying, including genetic causes and environmental influences.
Genetics can play a role in the development of white hair. People with a genetic predisposition for premature graying may find that their hair begins to turn white at an early age due to their heredity. Additionally, the influence of certain medications and stress can result in premature graying, causing someone to experience white hair even earlier than usual.
Environmental factors are also known to cause premature graying. Exposure to pollutants such as smoke or other airborne toxins can damage the follicles and lead to a decrease in melanin production, which is what causes white hairs. Other environmental triggers can also include excessive heat or UV rays, extreme cold, or malnutrition due to vitamin deficiencies or dietary imbalances.
In addition to lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, physical stress (including prolonged periods without enough sleep), and chronic stress can all have an impact on a person’s health overall and potentially cause white hair at an earlier age than expected. It is important for individuals who are concerned about developing premature gray hairs to maintain good nutrition with plenty of vitamins and minerals, exercise regularly for optimal health, practice good coping skills for managing stress triggers and follow up with doctors regularly for health screenings so possible issues can be addressed before complications occur.
Family history is an important risk factor when it comes to premature graying and hair loss. If someone in your close family experienced either of these conditions at a young age, it’s likely that you could be at risk as well. This doesn’t mean that genetics are destiny – rather, it means that certain genetic markers have been identified as being associated with white hair at a young age for many people. Other factors, such as dietary choices and lifestyle habits, can influence the expression of these genes even further.
It’s important to remember that family history is only one factor when considering the likelihood of prematurely gray hair. Even if someone in your family had premature graying, there are other ways to combat early onset white hair or balding; talk to your healthcare provider to discuss prevention and treatment options.
Exposure to certain chemicals
Long-term exposure to certain toxic chemicals may increase the risk of premature hair graying. These include certain medications and chemical pollutants, such as air pollution, smoke, cigarette smoking, certain industrial chemicals, and heavy metals. Repeated exposure to these substances can cause the hair follicles to turn white earlier than normal.
Certain chemicals used in food production and processing (specifically waxes, coloring agents, preservatives) may accelerate hair graying prematurely as well. For example, foods that contain high amounts of iron (such as breakfast cereal or dried fruits & nuts), can sometimes cause hair to become discolored when exposed to heat or light. Additionally, frequent dyes applied for cosmetic purposes (e.g., hair coloring) may contain toxic elements that are related to early whitening of the hair.
Exposure to radiation therapy used for cancer treatment has also been linked to premature hair graying due to damage sustained by the stem cells in the bulge region of a follicle which regulate melanin production in humans over time.
In order to properly diagnose the causes of premature white hair, it is first important to understand the underlying medical condition. There can be several different medical conditions, including genetic diseases and autoimmune disorders, that can lead to premature whitening of the hair. Knowing the underlying medical condition will help inform a proper diagnosis and guide treatment more effectively.
A physical examination is usually the first step in diagnosing the cause of white hair in young people. This can include a thorough review of the patient’s medical history, physical examination and tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), thyroid function tests, iron studies and nutraceutical level.
During the physical examination, health care providers may check for signs of conditions that could be causing white hair. These signs may include:
- Other changes in skin pigment or texture
- Swelling or redness
- Weakened or brittle nails
- Yellow patches on the skin
- Pale skin
- An enlarged thyroid gland
Signs of stress – including fatigue, excessive sweating or difficulty sleeping – may also be explored if they are present.
In order to evaluate other potential causes, doctors may take samples of blood, hair (to examine for give clues about the cause of white hair) or scalp tissue to examine under a microscope for evidence of alopecia (hair loss). In some cases, doctors may order additional tests to rule out any underlying medical causes such as autoimmunity diseases (when one’s own body attacks itself). All these examinations provide an important part in properly diagnosing what is causing a person’s hair to turn white at an earlier age than normal.
Blood tests are used to help diagnose the cause of why a person may be experiencing early hair whitening. A sample of blood will be taken during a physical exam and sent to a laboratory for testing. There are various types of tests which may be ordered, depending on the suspected cause of the white hairs.
These tests may include an analysis of hormones such as thyroxine, cortisol, testosterone and thyroid-stimulating hormone. Abnormal readings from these tests can indicate underlying problems with endocrinologic issues, such as an overactive or underactive thyroid gland. A complete blood count (CBC) may also be ordered if there is concern about a nutrient deficiency related to the hair whitening. Vitamin B levels and iron studies can help identify any deficiencies which may require intervention or supplementation with vitamins or minerals.
In addition, your doctor may perform specialized genetic testing (cytogenetic analysis) to uncover any abnormalities in your genes which might be responsible for the early graying of hair. These abnormalities can range from small changes in a single gene sequence known as point mutations to larger scale changes involving chromosomes (cytogenetic disorders). It’s important to note that even if these tests do uncover a cause for kidney disease but only affect one individual in every 3 million people; these rare genetic disorders are still possible causes for whites hairs appearing early on in life due to their effect on protein production related to pigment cells known as melanocytes.
A hair analysis is the process of examining a sample of your hair to determine why your hair may have gone white prematurely. It may involve looking at the composition and porosity, or examining hair on both a macro and microscopic level.
Once a sample has been collected, it will be sent for detailed analysis by lab personnel in order to detect any underlying conditions that could be contributing factors to premature whitening. There are various tests used in analysis, including:
- Mass spectrometry
During chromatography and photomicroscopy, the pattern of whiteness is analyzed under a microscope and various substances present can be identified. Histology involves studying the structure and proteins of individual hairs in order to better understand why they’re turning white so soon. Mass spectrometry provides information about the metabolites and their chemical compounds that make up each individual strand of white hair.
Through these tests, doctors are able to diagnose hair loss conditions like alopecia areata or seborrheic dermatitis; autoimmune disorders such as lupus; hereditary illnesses such as vitiligo or myelination syndromes; vitamin deficiencies like kwashiorkor; changes in hormone levels due to illness or certain medications; or certain types of cancer treatments which alter hormones like chemotherapy.
If someone’s hair turns white at a young age, they should immediately visit a doctor to receive a proper diagnosis. Depending on the cause, they may require hormonal treatments or medications to help reduce the graying of their hair. It’s important to understand the underlying cause of the graying to ensure that the appropriate treatment is given.
In this section, we will explore the different treatment options available:
Hair dyes are commonly used as a way to change the color of your hair and add a vibrant, youthful look. However, if not used properly, they can cause significant damage to your hair and even cause it to turn white – especially in younger people.
The chemicals found in many dye products can be very harsh and damage the cuticle of the hair, leading to dryness and brittleness. This is more likely for those with already dry or coarse hair. This dryness can cause the cuticle stands to lift away from the shaft of the hair allowing air molecules in; this will make it appear white as most strands naturally lack proper pigmentation. Additionally, over-bleaching or coloring your hair too often can leave it burned or porous, resulting in premature grayness or other undesired effects.
It is important to consider that while some dye products may cause hair loss and bleaching, this phenomenon is rare – unless there is an existing medical condition causing accelerated loss of pigment (such as vitiligo). In order to protect one’s scalp while using dyes, a good rule of thumb is avoiding applying any product directly on skin as well do regular deep scalp treatments using moisturizing oils such as coconut oil once every few weeks to restore natural oils balance on scalp which will further reduce chances of developing any unwanted side effects when using dyes regularly.
Certain medications can cause white hair at a young age. These medications can include antibiotics, antimalarial drugs, accutane, and even birth control pills. The chemicals in these drugs can interfere with the production of melanin, the pigment that gives your hair its color.
In some cases, chemotherapy or radiation used during cancer treatments may also cause hair to turn white prematurely. Depending on the intensity of the treatment, some people may be left with white patches on their head after recovery.
Lastly, medications that are used to treat certain autoimmune diseases like psoriasis or Alopecia Areata (which causes patchy baldness) can also turn hair white when used over time. Some headache medications have also been known to cause premature white hair in certain patients depending on the individual’s reaction to it.
Hair transplants are a reliable and permanent solution for those who experience hair loss. This procedure involves taking small portions of hair from the back or side of the head and transplanting it to balding areas. It is most commonly used in baldness treatment, but can also be done to restore eyebrows, beards, mustaches, and other facial hair.
A hair transplant involves two steps: harvesting and implanting. During the harvesting step, healthy donor hair follicles are taken from a donor area of higher density and then carefully prepared under a microscope if necessary before insertion into the recipient area. The follicles chosen for transplantation are extracted using one of two techniques: Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT), which involves removing a strip of skin with healthy hair follicles; or Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), which uses a specialized tool to extract individual hairs one at a time.
The second step is implanting, where specially trained stylists carefully insert each new follicle into its new location at just the right angle to ensure that it grows properly in its new environment. Depending on the patient’s wishes, more than one session may be necessary for full coverage or desired coverage density.
Certain precautions should be taken after undergoing this procedure. For example:
- Care should be taken not to brush directly on newly transplanted hairs as they may become dislodged before they have hardened completely in place.
- Sun exposure should also be limited due to possible damage from ultraviolet rays.
- Heavy alcoholic consumption may cause dryness around newly transplanted hairs.
- Cleaning products containing chlorides should also be avoided.
- Certain medications such as ibuprofen should not be taken while undergoing this process as they can interfere with healing after surgery.