Premature Greying Of Hair: How & Why It Happens

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Premature Greying Of Hair: How & Why It Happens

Your hair says a lot about your health besides affecting your physical appearance.

Premature greying of hair: How & Why it happens and can it be reversed?

Image Source: Dinodia

Healthy black hair is often considered a symbol of youthfulness but with age, your hair starts turning grey or white. This occurs at varying ages in different races. In some people, it starts happening at an early age and this is known as premature greying of hair. 

In this article, let’s learn from a Delhi- based dermatologist Dr Nirupama Parwanda how this premature greying of hair takes place, what are the possible causes and whether it can be reversed.

How does hair turn grey/ white?

Hair turns grey or white due to two main reasons:

1. Reduction of melanin - In your hair follicles, cells called melanocytes are present at the tip of the dermal papilla. These cells release a substance called melanin, a pigment which keeps your hair black. When melanocytes become less active, the production of melanin slows down due to which your hair starts turning grey. When this greying takes place between 20-30 years of age, it is called premature greying. 

2. Oxidative stress - When your hair follicles trigger the process of oxidative stress, a chemical called Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is released. This chemical converts into water and oxygen with the help of an enzyme called Catalase. When the level of this enzyme decreases in your body, hydrogen peroxide starts accumulating in your hair follicles. This accumulation stops the melanin synthesis due to which your hair starts turning grey or white. 

Oxidative stress occurs due to the following reasons:

  • Smoking

  • Emotional or mental stress

  • Excess sun exposure

  • Vitamin deficiencies

  • Polluted environment

Causes of premature greying of hair

  • Family history/ Genetics

  • Deficiency of Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron, Copper, or Protein

  • Decrease in thyroid hormone

  • Smoking

  • Medical conditions like Progeria and Vitiligo

  • Intake of certain medications like Chloroquine

Can greying of hair be reversed?

Dr. Parwanda says if your hair is turning grey due to factors like age or genetics, then the process of reversal is extremely difficult. But if greying is happening due to certain deficiencies or treatable medical conditions, then it can be improved by practising a few things:

  • Taking an antioxidant-rich diet which includes green leafy vegetables and fruits

  • Consuming food which is rich in Vitamin B12

  • Increasing the intake of copper-rich foods like almonds, dark chocolate and pulses

  • Quit smoking

Dr. Parwanda also suggests a few supplements and therapies which have proven effective in reversing the progression of premature greying of hair though they cannot assure you a 100 per cent result. These include:

1. PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid) - There are several studies which show that when PABA is given to people with grey hair, it turns their hair to its original colour. But it has also been observed that after stopping the medication, their hair again turned white.

2. Calcium Pantothenate - It is the most common supplement of Vitamin B5 which has proven efficient in preventing hair from turning grey. 

3. Melitane - It is a very good ingredient which is found in many lotions. It helps to stimulate resting melanocytes so that they can produce melanin.

4. Latanoprost - This ingredient is mainly found in eye drops and helps reverse the progression of premature hair greying.

5. PUVAsol - This therapy makes the combined use of the drug psoralen and UVA (ultraviolet A) radiation to achieve an effect which can not be achieved with the individual component alone. It is also beneficial in treating premature greying of hair.

Hair dyes for grey hair

There are different types of dyes available in the market. These include- Permanent, Demi-Permanent, Semi-Permanent and Temporary.

Dr Parwanda recommends that if you only have 30% -40% grey hair, then you should only go for demi-permanent or semi-permanent hair dyes. They are safer than permanent ones but need to be applied frequently. Permanent dyes contain Ammonia or PPD (Paraphenylenediamine) which can cause allergy.


Though Premature greying of hair cannot be reversed completely, it can be controlled and prevented using various treatments. But if you want to start any therapy or take supplements, you must consult an experienced and qualified doctor for better results.

Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or doctor. The Company does not vouch for or endorse any of the above content, and disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied, relating to the same.