Graying is a part of the natural aging process. However, some of you may see straggling strands of gray amongst your naturally dark hair in your 20s. Premature graying hits early, and genetics play a significant role in that (1).
If you are in your 20s and have recently discovered a few stray silver strands, do not panic. Scroll through this article to understand the reasons for premature graying and how to go about it.
Table Of Contents
What Is Premature Graying Of Hair?
Premature graying of hair (PGH) is when your hair turns gray before 20 years in Caucasians and 30 years in African Americans. While genetics is the main reason behind it, premature graying can be triggered by multiple other factors (1). Let’s take a look.
Is Premature Graying A Medical Issue? What Are The Causes?
Premature graying is not a medical issue. However, it is associated with multiple underlying conditions and syndromes. The factors that cause premature graying are:
1. Thyroid Disorders
The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are responsible for melanin production (melanogenesis) in the hair follicles. A low level of these hormones may cause premature graying (1).
2. Autoimmune Disorders
Premature graying is linked to autoimmune disorders, such as vitiligo and pernicious anemia, and premature aging syndromes like Werner’s syndrome (2).
3. Psychological And Oxidative Stress
Research shows that psychological stress triggered by emotional factors can increase the oxidative load or oxidative stress. This also plays a role in premature graying. Other factors like pollution and UV exposure also cause oxidative stress, leading to premature graying (1).
4. Diet And Nutritional Deficiencies
A study involving 35 schoolchildren found that the levels of nutrients like calcium, ferritin, and vitamin D3 were low in those with prematurely gray hair (2). Low serum iron, copper, and zinc concentrations also play a role in premature graying (3). However, further research is needed to conclude this.
An imbalanced diet causes the body to create free radicals, making your hair turn gray.
Smoking is harmful for your overall health and is also linked to premature graying. A study found a possible connection between premature graying before the age of 30. It concluded that smokers could have early onset of graying than non-smokers (4).
6. Hair Products
Hair products, such as chemical bleaches and colors, often contain chemicals like hydrogen peroxide. A study demonstrated that hydrogen peroxide could accumulate in the hair follicles, affect the hair pigments, and cause graying (5).
Consult a doctor to determine the exact reason for your premature gray hair. Early diagnosis is crucial for treatment. Meanwhile, if you want, you may follow the tips below to hide the gray strands.
How To Conceal Premature Gray Hair
- Use Tinting Sprays: Choose a color closer to the natural hair color for even coverage.
- Curl Your Hair: Curly or wavy hair makes the gray roots and strands less noticeable. You may even style your hair in French braids to hide them.
- Use Hair Accessories: Hairbands, headbands, bandanas, and scarves can effectively hide the grays.
You may also try home remedies to prevent premature graying. Check out the recipes in the next section.
Home Remedies To Prevent Premature Graying
1. Indian Gooseberry And Fenugreek
You Will Need
- 3-5 Indian gooseberries (chopped)
- ½ cup of coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon of fenugreek paste
- Boil the Indian gooseberry pieces with coconut oil for a few minutes on low heat.
- Once the oil cools down, mix the fenugreek paste.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve and store in a glass jar.
- Massage your scalp and hair with the oil solution.
- Leave it on for at least 30 minutes or more.
- Wash off with a mild shampoo.
- Follow the routine 2-3 times a week.
2. Henna And Coffee Dye
Henna is traditionally used for conditioning and tinting the hair. Often, coffee powder is added to henna to darken the tint. This can be a natural alternative to chemical hair dyes.
You Will Need
- 1 packet of henna powder
- 1 tablespoon of instant coffee
- 1 tablespoon of almond oil
- Mix coffee and water.
- Add the henna powder to the coffee and combine to form a paste.
- Cover the cup and let it rest for 2-3 hours.
- Once done, mix the almond oil with it.
- Apply the paste from root to tip.
- Cover your head with a shower cap and leave it on for an hour.
- Rinse off with a mild shampoo.
3. Ridge Gourd Oil
Ridge gourd oil is often used to prevent premature graying. However, there are no clinical studies to prove the efficacy of the oil on gray hair.
You Will Need
- 1 cup of sundried ridge-gourd
- 1 cup of coconut oil
- Soak the ridge gourd pieces in coconut oil for 3-4 days.
- Boil the pieces and the oil for 10 minutes.
- Strain the oil solution and store it in a glass jar.
- Massage your scalp and hair with the oil for 5-10 minutes.
- Leave it on for at least 30 minutes.
- Rinse it off with a mild shampoo.
- Follow the routine 2-3 times a week.
While treating the underlying condition (if any) causing premature graying is crucial, it is also important that you follow a balanced lifestyle, as a lot of lifestyle factors may also contribute to premature graying. Here are a few tips to stay healthy and manage premature graying.
Ways To Manage Premature Graying
1. Consume A Balanced Diet
Nutritional deficiency is one of the factors responsible for premature graying. Get yourself tested for any deficiencies and eat your way to health. Follow a diet consisting of whole grains, vegetables, seafood, poultry, dairy, and fruits. Consult a doctor and take supplements to cover vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Avoid processed foods. This will keep your health in check and help prevent premature graying.
2. Prioritize Your Mental Health
Stress turns your locks gray. Hence, take some time out and indulge in any activity that calms your mind. Listen to music, burn your stress (and calories) with exercise, travel, read books, try yoga and meditation, get a pet, or take up new hobbies. You may take professional help and reach out to counselors and therapists.
3. Focus On Overall Well-Being
Quit smoking. It is good for your lungs, hair, and overall well-being. Take care of your hair – indulge in spa treatments, use hair nourishing masks and oils, and follow a hair care routine. This helps keep your hair healthy and prevent premature graying.
Genetics is a significant cause of premature gray hair. However, other factors like lifestyle, autoimmune disorders, nutritional deficiencies, and other underlying conditions may cause premature graying. Consult a doctor to determine the exact reason and follow the prescribed treatment. Take care of your overall health and follow the tips mentioned in the article to deal with premature graying.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
Is gray hair a sign of poor health?
No. Graying is a part of the aging process. However, premature graying can be a sign of underlying health issues and deficiencies.
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