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White Hair - Causes, Prevention and Home Remedies

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Change in hair color due to aging is not uncommon, but premature white hair should be taken care of and given attention. Read below to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Nidhin Varghese

Published At August 18, 2022
Reviewed AtMarch 7, 2023

What Is White Hair?

The human body consists of millions of hair follicles lining the skin. The hair follicles develop the hair, and it consists of pigment cells (melanin) that generate the hair color. It is normal to see a change in hair color as people age because the hair follicles will start to lose the pigment cells over time, resulting in white color. However, a few strands of white hair might also develop in the early stages of life (the 20s), and there are various ways to restore the pigmentation. Everyone will love to look young, so to achieve it or avoid premature graying hair, one should take care of themselves.

What Are the Causes of White Hair?

Besides age, there are various causes that result in a person's hair turning white.

The common causes of prematurely white hair are,

1) Vitamin Deficiencies

Vitamins play an important role in our body by providing energy and contributing to healthy and darker hair. Vitamin B12 is needed for healthy red blood cells as they help carry oxygen to the cells in our body, including hair cells. In addition, vitamin B6, D, E, or biotin deficiencies can also contribute to premature graying, affecting hair pigmentation and weakening hair cells.

2) Genetics

Premature graying of hair has a big role in genetics. When you come across white hair at an early age, then your parents or grandparents might have had white hair at an early age. It has been said that white hairs are seen as early as 20 in white people, 25 years among Asians, and 30 years in African-Americans populations.

3) Stress

Stress is one of the main reasons for premature hair. Everyone experiences stress in their life, and chronic stress may result in anxiety, sleep problems, high blood pressure, white hair, etc. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance in antioxidants as they help to damage the effects of free radicals, which contribute to aging and disease. However, too much oxidative stress promotes the development of diseases, such as vitiligo. Vitiligo also turns the hair white due to loss of melanin pigmentation.

4) Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, increase people’s risk of graying early. Alopecia areata, an autoimmune skin disease, causes hair loss, but it tends to grow white when the hair grows back due to melanin deficiency. Researchers have also shown a connection between hair problems and thyroid dysfunction.

5) Smoking

A study has said that there is a link between premature white hair and smoking. Beyond increasing the risk of lung cancer and heart diseases, cigarette smoking affects the hair. Smoking causes constriction of the blood vessels and reduces the blood flow to the hair follicles resulting in hair loss and early white hair.

6) Chemical Hair Products

Chemical hair products, such as shampoos, and dyes, can cause premature hair graying as many of these products contain harmful ingredients that reduce the melanin cells.

How to Prevent and Reverse Premature White Hair?

White hair could not be prevented or reversed if aging or genetics is the underlying cause. If the loss of color is due to a medical condition, diet, or vitamin deficiencies, the color pigmentation could be reversed by correcting the problem or stopping it from worsening. Follow the below tips to prevent or reverse premature white hair.

Antioxidants - A person's diet plan plays a major part in preventing white hair, whereas an antioxidant-rich diet is highly beneficial in many ways and reduces oxidative stress.

The antioxidant-rich foods are:

  • Vegetables.

  • Fresh fruits.

  • Olive oil.

  • Green tea.

  • Fish.

Vitamin Deficiencies - People with white hair resulting from a vitamin deficiency should include more foods loaded with those vitamins. Some examples of excellent sources of vitamin B-12 are:

  • Seafood.

  • Eggs.

  • Meat.

  • Milk.

  • Salmon.

  • Cheese.

Over-the-counter vitamin supplements can also correct these deficiencies.

Quit Smoking - Smoking has many side effects and leads to life-threatening complications. It may show various signs of usage where white hair is one of the warning signs, and the link between smoking and loss of hair pigmentation has been scientifically proven.

What Are the Home Remedies for Premature White Hair?

Applying hair dyes is not a solution or a treatment for premature hair whitening as it may contribute to various allergic and adverse reactions. Treating the white hair should help slow down hair-whitening without causing any damage to the body, and it could be achieved by following the below explained home remedies.

  1. Curry leaves have various medicinal properties. It is combined with coconut oil to prepare the hair oil, as it improves the hair texture and pigmentation when applied to the scalp and the hair. The research conducted by the international journal of pharma tech has scientifically proven the traditional use of curry leaves to prevent premature graying and retain black hair color.

  2. False daisy or bhringaraj leaf has also been proven to darken hair color and prevent premature gray hair. The juice of bhringaraj leaf is added to the coconut or sesame oil and massaged into the hair.

  3. Indian gooseberry, also known as amla, is a herbal supplement known to reverse the premature graying of hair by promoting pigmentation. Amla is rich in antioxidants and anti-aging properties, and its effectiveness in darkening hair and preventing premature graying is very high. It is also available in powder and supplement form. In the case of a powder, mix it directly with the oil and apply it to the scalp.

  4. On applying black tea to the hair, the hair becomes darker, healthy, softer, and shinier. It cannot be applied directly to the hair, so 3 to 4 tea bags are immersed in 2 cups of boiling water, and after retaining the normal temperature, it can be applied to wet hair. It can be mixed with the conditioner and leave it for an hour to dry before rinsing out.

  5. A decrease in copper levels can cause premature graying of the hair, so eat foods that are good sources of copper, such as:

  • Asparagus.

  • Almonds.

  • Beef liver.

  • Dark chocolate.

  • Lentils.

6. Ridge gourd helps to restore the pigment and stimulate the hair roots. When ridge gourd oil is massaged regularly, it helps prevent the hair from turning white.

Conclusion:

In some instances, the progression of white hair could be stopped and reversed with a balanced diet, good hair care, the right diagnosis, and treatment. However, the process is irreversible in some cases. By regularly using natural remedies, the person may slow down and possibly reverse white hair. However, it is normal for everyone to eventually have white hair. It is completely the person's choice to decide whether they are comfortable with the white or prefer to hold back with the natural aging process.

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Dr. Nidhin Varghese
Dr. Nidhin Varghese

Dermatology

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white hairvitamin deficiency
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