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Premature Graying of Hair: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Published on Jan 09, 2018 and last reviewed on Nov 04, 2022   -  5 min read


Due to stress and pollution, many young adults suffer from premature graying of hair. Read this article to find out ways to prevent and treat this condition.

Premature Graying of Hair: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

What Is Graying of Hair?

Premature graying of hair (PGH) is a condition of change in hair color to gray before the age of 20. It is also called canities or achromotrichia. However, the period at which it occurs varies in different races. It makes the person appear older than their age, causing poor self-esteem and personality issues.

What Are the Causes of Hair Graying?

The leading cause of graying of hair is a reduction in melanin synthesis by pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes. These cells are present in the roots of hairs called the hair follicle. The point when hair turns gray is not only decided by age (usually average age of graying is the late 30s to 40s, depending on the race), but it also depends on certain other factors like genetics and heredity. Given below is a detailed explanation of some of the causes of graying of hair -

1. Genetics

Graying of hairs may be related to genetics. It is possible to have gray hair if the mother or father of the individual has prematurely gray hair. Moreover, it is also related to geography and race, as people in certain countries have gray hair much earlier than people in other countries. White people tend to get gray hair even in their 20s, while Asian people usually get gray hair after their mid-20s, and in Africans and Americans, gray hair usually starts to appear after age 30.

2. Stress

Stress is one of the other most common reasons for gray hair. However, it is also related to other conditions such as anxiety, high blood pressure, sleep issues, and skin disorders.

3. Diet

Diet can also lead to graying of hair. For example, patients who eat more processed food and cold drinks and have excess salt and sugar intake are at an increased risk of gray hair.

4. Vitamin Deficiency

A deficiency of vitamins such as vitamins B, D, E, and biotin can cause premature graying of hair. However, this can be corrected by taking vitamin supplements.

5. Pollution or Weather Conditions

Pollutants in the air can damage melanin cells, speeding up the hair-graying process.

6. Chemical Hair Products

Some hair care products like shampoos and conditioners can lead to premature greying of hair because of the presence of harmful chemicals, which leads to a decrease in the melanin content. Moreover, some hair dyes contain chemicals like hydrogen peroxide and bleaching agents that can cause hair whitening if used for a long.

7. Smoking

Smoking constricts blood vessels, reducing the blood flow to hair follicles and leads to hair loss. In addition, the toxins lead to the graying of hair way earlier than expected.

8. Health Issues

Conditions such as thyroid and autoimmune disorders (conditions in which the immune system of the body destroys its cells instead of protecting them) can affect hair pigmentation. For example, thyroid hormone imbalance reduces melanin production and causes hair to turn gray.

9. Exposure to the Sun

Excessive exposure to sunlight can cause disturbance in color-producing cells and increase the risk of premature graying of hair.

How to Prevent Premature Graying?

If other family members have experienced the same problem during childhood, the children will also have it in their genes. In that case, nothing can be done, as it is a natural process that may worsen with age. If premature graying of hair is not present in the family, lack of proper nutrients is probably the main cause.

General measures to follow -

  • Children should be provided with food rich in iron, vitamin B12, and protein, like fresh green leafy vegetables, fruits, juices, white meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products.

  • Avoid excessive intake of soda, cakes, candies, chocolates, and other foods that include refined sugar.

  • Avoid soaps and shampoos that are loaded with chemicals.

  • Besides providing a healthy diet, it is important to check whether the children suffer from any diseases like

  • Hypo or hyperthyroidism - Decrease or increase in the production of thyroid hormone.

  • Pernicious Anemia - Blood disorder due to vitamin B12 deficiency).

  • Vitiligo - It is a condition that causes a change in skin color due to loss of skin pigmentation.

  • Quit smoking.

  • Avoid stress, and practice meditation and yoga to keep the mind free.

  • Protect hair from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

How to Stop Graying Hair?

1. Medication

Treatment of gray hair starts with identifying whether the type of graying is natural or premature and the underlying cause of it. Then, the healthcare professional may prescribe shampoos, oils, serums, and hair masks. Moreover, nutritional supplements can also be prescribed.

2. Cosmetic Shampoos

These shampoos help in changing the color of hair from gray to natural color and also reform the texture of hair.

3. Essential Oils

Oils help maintain melanin content to the maximum levels. Oils like rosemary, sandalwood, chamomile, lavender, fenugreek, argan, and amla are readily available in the market and can treat gray hair.

4. Food Sources

Antioxidant-rich foods help fight free radicals in the body, which are free atoms or molecules with unpaired electrons. These free radicals can damage the body while searching for an electron. Foods like berries, broccoli, and fish are loaded with antioxidants that help reverse the premature graying of hair.

What Are the Home Remedies for Gray Hair?

Natural ingredients can be used to slow down the process of premature greying of hair. Some of the ingredients that can be used for this are as follows -

1. Curry Leaves - Curry leaves, along with coconut oil, can be used to stop the graying of hair.

2. Gooseberry or Amla - It is extremely rich in antioxidants, has anti-aging properties, and is one of the best methods to treat gray hair.

3. Black Tea - It consists of tannic acid, which helps in making hair darker and shinier.

4. Coconut Oil - Applying coconut oil daily can also help reduce gray hair.

5. Ginger.

6. Blackstrap molasses.

7. Ghee - Massaging the scalp and hair with pure ghee can also reduce gray hair.

8. Carrot juice - Drinking eight ounces of carrot juice daily can help treat gray hair.


Premature graying of hair primarily depends upon the amount of melanin produced by the hair follicles. However, stress, nutritional deficiency, and lifestyle changes can reduce melanin production. Therefore, a balanced diet and taking care of the hair by using natural products can help reverse the condition of gray hair.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is It Possible To Reverse Premature Graying of Hair?

Due to the decrease in melanin production in the follicles with growing age, the hair starts to turn gray from the mid-thirties. Some vitamins, including biotin (vitamin B 7) and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), and certain pharmaceutical drugs may be able to reverse graying of hair. But in some people, it is impossible to reverse the process if the early graying is caused by genetics.


How To Prevent Premature Graying of Hair?

To prevent premature graying of hair, protect your hair from sun, avoid stress, quit smoking, and turn to antioxidants. You can also prevent premature graying of hair with the following ingredients:
- A mixture of onion and lemon juice on your scalp and hair.
- Hair tonic with coconut oil and curry leaves.
- Use of Indian gooseberry for hair.
- Ridge gourd oil for hair color.
- Carrot and sesame oil.


What Do You Mean by Early Graying of Hair?

Due to a decrease in the production of melanin in the hair follicles during the growing age, the hair will start graying from mid-thirties; this is known as early graying of hair.


Does Gray Hair a Sign of Poor Health?

The majority of graying seen in people is age-related graying. But sometimes, it may indicate an illness if this graying occurs at a young age. The health problems that may be associated with premature graying are vitamin B 12 deficiency.


Can Plucking Gray Hair Increase It?

Plucking of gray hair will not increase the number of gray hair. And while pulling a gray hair out, 30 percent of the hair shaft will remain under the shaft, and it will again give rise to gray hair, but the number of existing white hair will not increase. Plucking will also make the hair follicles weak.


Can We Turn Gray Hair Into Black Hair Again?

White or gray hair due to aging cannot be turned black again naturally. In contrast, the white hair formed due to bleaching, stress, food, pollution, vitamin deficiency, and other physical influences can be turned black again if proper care is given.


Which Vitamin Helps Prevent Graying of Hair?

Vitamin B 6 and B 12 are two complex B vitamins that help in healthy skin and hair. Vitamin B6 will help restore hair to its original color following an illness or deficiency, and vitamin B 5, known as pantothenic acid, helps combat premature graying of hair.


At What Age Is It Considered To Be Premature Graying?

For humans, gray hair is considered premature when it happens at around the age of 30. The term premature hair graying is used when it occurs before the age of 20 in white people, 25 in Asian people, and 30 in African people. The primary cause of early graying of hair in teens and young people may be due to genetic, autoimmune disorders, smoking, and trace element deficiencies.


Which Genetic Group Is Related To Premature Graying?

Premature graying of hair may occur alone as an autosomal dominant condition or associated with various autoimmune or premature aging syndromes. Down syndrome (trisomy 21) is characterized by the features of accelerated aging, including premature graying of hair and deficient DNA repair. Early graying needs to be differentiated from various genetic hypomelanotic hair disorders.


Which Food Can Make Hair Black?

The following are the foods that can make hair black:
- Protein: Eating protein-rich foods such as grains, meat, and soy aids in producing melanin which gives hair its black color.
- Minerals: Foods rich in zinc, iron, and copper help keep hair healthy. A zinc deficiency can also cause hair shedding.
- Vitamins: Foods rich in vitamin B, found in fresh green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, bananas, yogurt, etc., and foods that are rich in vitamin A, such as dark green vegetables and yellow fruit, will help prevent gray hair.
- Salmon: Salmon is a good source of omega-three fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids keep the scalp healthy, which is important because a dry scalp can make the color of your hair appear dull.

Last reviewed at:
04 Nov 2022  -  5 min read




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