Grey hair is a tell-tale sign of ageing. It is often associated with wisdom and maturity. It is not just older people, though, who find their hair going grey. Many men and women alike suffer from prematurely greying hair. WebMD says that anyone who has grey hair before the age of 40 is greying prematurely. Some may even start to grey as teenagers.
Why Hair Greys
Understanding the anatomy of greying hair is important to understanding prematurely grey hair. WebMD describes the greying process saying, "Hair grows in stages, with a certain percentage of hair either growing or resting at any one time. The hair follicles---the little bags under the skin where hair is formed out of skin---also contain pigment called melanin. When the body stops producing pigments, the hair becomes colourless, turning white. Mixed with darker hair, this produces a look most commonly associated with "grey." An actual grey hair may be a result of pigment dilution."
Grey hair is formed when the hair follicles stop producing natural pigment. DrGreene.com discusses the fact that "each individual's melanocyte-clock is different." That means that while some may get grey hair when they are older, it is very possible that some, even as young as teenagers, will grey prematurely.
Hereditary Grey Hair
Grey hair at such an early age is, most often, hereditary. It is passed down from generation to generation within a family circle. If you see that many of your family members have or had grey hair at an early age, especially in their teens, most likely you will, too.
Prematurely grey hair in teenagers is not always genetic. It could be a sign of another health condition. Vitiligo is a condition where pigment producing melanocytes are destroyed leaving behind white patches of hair and skin.
DrGreene.com says, "The most common of these [other causes of grey hair in children] is vitamin B12 deficiency...The body's ability to absorb and use B12 can be hampered by surgery involving the stomach or small bowel, diseases affecting the small bowel (e.g. regional enteritis, necrotizing enterocolitis, tuberculosis, diverticulosis, or fish tapeworms), or a congenital lack of the molecules needed to absorb B12." A vitamin B12 deficiency can be detected in a blood test.
Other health conditions that could cause hair to grey early are anemia and thyroid disorders.
There is no real medical treatment that can stimulate melanocytes into producing pigment once they have stopped. The only choice for those who want to cover their grey hair is hair dye. WebMD suggests that those dying their grey hair "try a semipermanent dye at first. Make it one shade light than your natural colour. If it is too light it won't colour."
If your grey hair is hereditary, there is no way to prevent it. If it it caused by some medical condition make sure that you get that condition treated as soon as possible. Also, try to maintain healthy lifestyle habits that encourage healthy hair growth. These include a balanced diet full of vitamins and lean proteins. Do not smoke or drink alcohol excessively. Get a good night's sleep as often as possible. Drink plenty of water and try to keep your stress levels down.