“Doctor, I am noticing grey hair at a young age of 20, What causes premature greying of hair? What is the treatment of white hair and is there any medicine for grey hair?”
These are the questions, which I often receive in my dermatological clinic. Your hair turns white because of the decrease in the melanin (the pigment that imparts a black or brown colour to your hair). The admixture of black and white hair gives grey colour hue to your hair.
Now, the question arises, do you need medicine for grey hair?
Yes, you need medicine for grey hair if they appear for the first time before the age of (1):
- 20 in the fair skin.
- 25 in the wheatish skin.
- 30 in the black skin.
Well if you fit into the above age group, then read further to know the cause, treatment, home remedies and various other aspects of premature grey hair.
I have summarised the most important aspects of greying of hair in the video given below:
Although the Internet has many causes for premature greying of hair, I am listing only those which have some evidence in dermatological literature:
- Nutritional causes: This is the most common cause of greying early. Studies showed significantly low levels of calcium, Iron, Vitamin B12, Folic acid, Vitamin D3 and Ferritin in people with premature greying of hair. Yet another study showed the low copper level in healthy kids of average age 15 with premature greying of hair(2).
- Hereditary: If your parents or close relative also have premature greying of hir, then reason is in your genes. Premature greying is inherited as an Autosomal dominant trait, which means either of your parents; siblings or close relatives might have the history of going grey at an early age. The premature greying of hairs, in this case, occurs as an independent trait and is not accompanied with any other abnormality.
- Atopic diathesis: Allergy in lungs (asthma), eye (allergic conjunctivitis) nose (allergic rhinitis) or skin (atopic dermatitis) might be associated with the early greying of hair.
- Autoimmune disorders: Premature greying of hair is common in those who have an autoimmune disease like pernicious anaemia, hyper- or hypothyroidism.
- Premature ageing syndrome like Progeria and Pangeria: It is very rare cause of premature greying. In this case, other changes of ageing like wrinkling of the face, weak bones, diabetes, cataract, etc. are also evident at early age.
- Undue stress: Daily stress cannot cause greying of hair, however, undue stress both physical and mental can cause reversible greying of hair.
- Medications: Premature greying of hair can be caused by following drugs
- Fluoro butyrophenone
- Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor
- Medical disorders: Premature canities can also occur in diseases like HIV infection, cystic fibrosis, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Smoking and substance abuse: Both chronic smoking and drug abuse have shown correlation with early greying of hair.
- Environmental damage: Damaging reactive oxygen radicals generated as a result of pollution, UV rays from sun, inflammatory stress in localised scalp diseases, harsh chemicals, etc. might damage pigment forming the cell of hair and hence, lead to premature greying.
It advisable to consult a dermatologist for finding the cause of grey hair and start appropriate treatement as soon as possible.
As per my observation, lifestyle is one of the major triggering factors of greying, I have recommend the sleep, exercise and diet plan given in the video given to my patients, and it does show benefits:
Grey hair or white hair are usually rough, stiffer and are more difficult to manage, so you might be having a hard time getting them styled. The simple simple hair care tips given below might prevent further greying of your:
- Do not blow dry grey or white hair often, air drying is best for grey hair.
- Do not use hot iron for straightening frequently because heat makes grey or white hair frizzier.
- Avoid hair wax: Regular use of hair wax for styling can damage hair.
- Avoid straightening procedures: The harsh chemicals used for hair straightening can trigger grey hair especially if the chemical touches the scalp and gets absorbed into the hair root where the pigment-forming cells are located.
- Shampoos or spas that promise to blacken your hair are unlikely to help.
- Do not expose grey hair to the bright sun: Make sure that you cover them up with a cap, scarf or bandana when you are in bright sunlight because they lack melanin they cannot protect themselves from damaging UV rays of the sun.
- Colour them safely: Grey or white hair do not take dye as easily as normal hair. Therefore, colouring at saloon might achieve better and long lasting results. A single session of evenly spread hair dye sparing the scalp roots done by a professional is better than multiple inefficient efforts at home. Make sure that hair dye does not touch your scalp. You can get highlights to limit the exposure of hair colour to your normal hair. Give longer gaps between the colouring sessions to avoid frequent exposure to hair dye. Unfortunately, studies are showing relation between frequent exposure to hair dye and cancer. To know more watch this video:
Natural remedies for grey hair
You can try following home remedies to either prevent or colour your grey hair:
- Coconut oil and curry leaves: Curry leaves might help in blackening the grey hair. You can soak curry leaves in coconut oil for 3 weeks or boil them for 5-10 minutes at low temperature.
- Tea for black color: Boil tea in water for a few minutes, strain and use the cold mixture to rinse your hair, this might give a temporary black colour to your hair.
- Coffee for brown color: Boil coffee in water for a few minutes, strain and use the cold mixture to rinse your hair, this might give a temporary brown colour to your hair.
- Henna: This is a natural hair colour that gives red highlights to black hair, but white or grey hair might get orange coloured. The advantage of henna is that it is unlikely to cause any allergic reactions. You can make a paste of henna in water boiled with tea or coffee to give a black and brown colour to your grey hair.
- Other natural hair colours: Amalaki (Emblica Officinalis), Bhringaraj (Eclipta alba), mooncake seed tree (Sterculia platanifolia), and the lotus tree (Zizyphus spina-christi) can be found in addition to henna in many natural hair colours available on
- Try Ayurvedic oil with herbs that prevent grey hair: You can shift to products that can help in getting rid of grey hair, because they contain herbs that might help in stimulating pigment in your hair roots.
The dermatologist consultation usually begins by finding the cause of premature grey of hair by checking and treating deficiency of iron, folic acid, copper, vitamin B12, thyroid hormones, etc.
Though there is little evidence of success with the multivitamin in cases without documented deficiency of vitamin or mineral, we usually give 3-month trial, considering the non-harmful nature of the treatment. Therefore, you can econsume Perfectil skin hair and nail supplement for 3 months. It has copper, calcium pentathionate, zinc, iron etc. It is available online in various countries:
If you have hair loss as well, then you can find the best supplement for both hair loss and grey hair in this article, Best hair supplement for hair re-growth. Though these supplements are safe, please check contraindications or allergies to any of the component used in these supplements.
Though studies have still not proven significant correlation, there is evidence that people with premature greying of hair might develop:
- Osteopenia or low bone density later in life. This means that they might be more prone to fractures(3).
- Coronary artery diseases or in simple language heart attacks is more in men with premature greying of hair (no such correlation was found in the case of females). Thus, a healthy lifestyle and discussion about the same with your doctor cannot be overemphasised (4, 5)
In the end, I hope this article was helpful. if you have further questions, would request you to consult a dermatologist.