Stop gray hair, can we?

Grey hair facts

Stop gray hair, can we?

By Sarika Periwal

(Healingtalks) Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just sail through life without having to worry about gray hair; if we could have the same head of hair – healthy, shiny, with its natural pigment – in our later years that we enjoyed in our youth?

Alas this is not to be, and we all have to contend with grey hair appearing on our heads; some rather sooner than others.

While for many of us, it is the 40’s and 50’s that evince the first signs of hair going grey, for others, the gray starts off in the 30’s. For an increasing number this appearance of the first gray hair can be as early as the teens or early 20’s. So what does make the hair lose color?

What makes hair lose its color?

The follicle of the hair is responsible for imparting color to the hair shaft, because of the pigment (color) that it contains. As and when the melanin production decreases or ceases due to the pigment dying, the hair begins to lose its color. So gray hair is not really gray, but actually colorless.

Factors influencing hair color

There are several factors that influence hair color:

  • Heredity
    This is the most important factor that determines how and when a person starts to grey. If one’s parents and grandparents started to have grey hair early, chances are that that person will as well. Since this is largely determined by one’s genes a person should have a fairly good idea of when he or she will start to go grey. If in a family a given person started to age really early and was, say, completely gray by age 25, then there is a good chance that that person’s child will as well.
  • Ethnicity
    Our ethnic background can also indicate the time when one will start to silver. There are some racial patterns observed here – white people tend to go grey during their mid 30’s, Asians do so a little later in their late thirties and black people tend to do so only when they reach their mid 40’s.
  • Lifestyle factors
    Smoking is known to be really bad for health for a great many different reasons, and one of the many reasons not to smoke is gray hair. Smoking is known to reduce melanin production and hence speed up the graying process.
  • Medical conditions
    Certain medical conditions such pernicious anemia can cause melanin production to decrease. Thyroid deficiency can also cause hair to go gray. Stress is another reason for hair to literally go gray. Though it may be an old wives’ tale that a traumatic event or grief turned someone’s hair gray overnight, it is true that stress, grief, life altering events and anxiety can contribute to the graying process. Also certain medications are thought to aggravate or cause hair to go gray.
  • Environmental factors
    Toxins and pollution in the environment is also thought to contribute to the process of hair turning gray according to some experts. It is thought that pesticides and other chemicals that enter our system through our food and the environment, could contribute to the graying process.

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