Gray hair or white hair is often associated with elderly people. In fact, the cause of gray hair is not just the aging process. There are various things that can also cause gray hair to appear on the head.
The formation of gray hair is influenced by melanin, a color-giving substance found in hair follicles. Melanin levels in a person’s body can change over time.
There are two types of melanin that determine hair color, namely eumelanin and pheomelanin. Hair will be darker if eumelanin more dominant than phenomelanin. Meanwhile, a small amount of melanin makes hair grow gray, silver, and ultimately white.
Causes of Gray Hair Growth
There are several conditions that can influence the formation of gray hair, namely:
Naturally, hair color changes to gray or white with age. As you get older, the production of melanin in the body will decrease, causing gray hair to appear. This is thought to be caused by increased damage to hair cells due to aging.
This cause of gray hair cannot be avoided. The appearance of gray hair in someone who is still young could be caused by genetic factors. This means that it is possible that both parents also had gray hair from a young age.
Suffering from certain diseases can also cause gray hair to grow. One condition that can make hair turn white or gray is vitiligo. Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition that causes some parts of the hair and skin to lose color pigment.
4. Hormonal disorders
Hormonal changes caused by thyroid disease can also cause gray hair to grow. This pair of glands located at the base of the neck plays a role in controlling the body’s metabolism.
An overactive or underactive thyroid gland can cause the body to produce less melanin. Therefore, the health of the thyroid gland can affect hair color.
5. Lack of nutrition
Lack of nutrition can also cause hair to become finer, thinner and brittle and turn white due to decreased melanin production. Examples are vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can weaken hair cells and reduce melanin production. So, if gray hair appears on your head, get enough vitamin B12 every day, for example by consuming beef liver, sardines, tuna, salmon and red meat.
6. Smoking habit
Make no mistake, smoking can be a trigger factor for gray hair growth. In fact, there is research that shows smoking is related to the growth of gray hair at the age of less than 30 years.
Smoking can also make blood vessels narrower and ultimately reduce blood flow to hair follicles, causing hair loss.
Apart from that, the dangerous substances in cigarettes can damage body organs including hair follicles, causing hair to turn gray.
7. Side effects of drugs
Patients undergoing chemotherapy or malaria treatment may experience gray hair. The drug content used in chemotherapy and malaria can inhibit the formation of melanin so that hair turns white.
If the cause of gray hair is genetic, changing hair color to white cannot be prevented. However, if the cause is a health problem, there is a possibility that the hair color will return to its original condition if the underlying disease is treated appropriately.
Generally, Asian people will experience gray hair growth in their late 30s. Graying of hair at an earlier age can be considered too early.
One opinion states that stress can also accelerate aging factors, including the growth of gray hair earlier than it should. Although several cases support this assumption, until now this still has to be proven scientifically.
If you feel uncomfortable with growing gray hair, you can cover it with hair dye. However, you need to know that gray hair is generally drier. So, choose a hair coloring product that doesn’t dry out your hair further.
If you feel that the growth of gray hair you are experiencing is not normal, for example too much gray hair at a young age, consult a doctor so that the cause can be determined and appropriate treatment can be given.