No More Blues Over Greys!
Dr. Anjali Pal

Dr. Anjali Pal

May 22Hair and Skin Care

No More Blues Over Greys!

This article was compiled by Alipta Jena.

Have you been feeling over your emerging greys? Yes, premature greying can have that effect. However there are remedies as well. To understand the nuances of greying, read on.

Hair follicle contains melanin which lends it its pigment. With progressing age, the melanin activity in the hair reduces and eventually is lost, after which the grey becomes colorless or grey. This is a NORMAL part of ageing.

The 50-50s of greying

As a general rule, we may consider that by age 50, 50% of people have 50% of grey hair. Greying starts over the temples (sides of the forehead), moves on to the top of head and then the back of head. Body hair tends to grey later. Before you consider yourself as prematurely greying- first understand what the term means.

What is premature greying?

  • When a significant fraction of hair greys occurs below the age 18.
  • Above 18 years, a certain degree of greying is considered normal, and depends on your genetics.
  • Next, to be understood, is that greying doesn’t mean that there is something deficient in your body or nutrition, in most cases.

Causes of premature greying

  • It has some genetic association, it is transmitted in families as a dominant trait (that means if one of the parents have it, there's a 50% chance of the offspring getting it)
  • All other conditions of premature greying are considered rare.

Rarer conditions in which premature greying can be seen are

  • Some specific thyroid disorders (including both lack or excess of thyroid hormone)
  • A certain type of B12- deficiency anemia is an auto-immune disease (pernicious anemia)
  • Extremely rare cases of dwarfism (lack of growth hormone), or pigmentary disorders of the skin will also have premature greying. These can be identified by very obvious physical features, and they are called syndromes because they have a group of features, of which greying hair is just one.
  • Certain drugs (prescribed medication) can also cause greying. For example, chloroquine, and chemotherapy for cancers.
  • Can stress cause rapid greying? Yes, it seems to be, but again, usually not prematurely.
  • Smoking is linked to greying of hair as it releases free radicals in the body that accelerate the ageing process.
  • Premature grey hair is to be differentiated from light coloured hair in the case of severe malnutrition or protein deficiency in children, a condition that is definitely rare nowadays.
  • People with kidney disease and digestive disorders that affect the absorption of nutrients into the body also may tend to have lightened hair, but this is not grey hair.

Treatment for greys

As most of the symptoms outlined above are genetic, or syndromic, there is no targeted treatment. If a specific cause is found by your doctor, treatment of it can slow down the extent of greying but it usually will not reverse it. So we still look towards options like dyeing the hair or accepting the greys and flaunting them.

Hair colouring basics

  • Hair colouring is generally safe when instructions are followed.
  • Consult your doctor and a hair colouring professional before you attempt to colour premature greys, and especially of a child.
  • You may prefer to do a patch test to prevent unwanted allergic reactions to hair colour.
  • You can use gentle shampoos that are for coloured hair, or sulphate free shampoos as they are mild. There are some special shampoos especially for grey hair, to retain its colour as UV light exposure tends to make it turn yellow with time.
  • To protect the hair from UV light but covering up if you go into bright sunshine.

Genetics is a significant cause of premature grey hair. However, other factors like lifestyle, autoimmune disorders, nutritional deficiencies, and other underlying conditions may cause premature greying.

Consult a doctor to determine the exact reason and follow the prescribed treatment and don’t forget to take care of your overall health!

Disclaimer - This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare practitioners before undertaking any changes in your diet or adding supplements.

ProactiveForHer is a digital clinic for women, offering accessible, personalized, and confidential healthcare solutions. We offer products and services for out-patient health concerns of Indian women, across their lifetime - from puberty to pregnancy to menopause. To know more on the sexual and reproductive health of women, visit