Why does hair turn grey as we grow older?

grey hair

grey hair

For some of us the first grey hairs appeared in our youth, even as early as fifteen. At thirty, about quarter of the population has some tell-tale signs of the greying to come. Some 28 percent  of us will eventually have hair that is completely white. A few fortunate people will get no grey hairs at all.

If your parents or grand parents went grey, the changes are that you will do so at about the same age and in the same way. Caucasianshave a fifty/fifty chance that half their hair will be grey hair or white hair at the age of fifty. Blacks begin to turn noticeably grey about six years later than whites, in their early forties.

But why should hair turn grey (grey hair )or white instead of, say, bright blue? Cells called melanocytes determine hair color. By producing and mixing just two basic pigments, eumalanin and pheomelanin, these cells hive human hair its wonderful range of colors. Eumelanin may tint each strand of hair any color from the deepest black to the lightest brown; pheomelanin may turn it blond, golden or red. The volume, shape, brightness and density of the pigments in each individual mix give hour hair its distinctive look.

If melanocytes become less active, as they do in our twenties, new hairs growing from the hair follicles carry less of their original pigmentation, and emerge grey. When the melanocyte cells cease work, which they may do naturally according to your genes or when influenced by trauma or disease, you hair will grow without pigment, in the basic color of its protein – snow white. Sometimes, because of the hair’s  normal color, the growth of white hairs is hard to detect.

Redheads have some 90,000 hairs on their heads brunettes about 108,000 and blonde’s 140,000. Half a blonde’s hair could turn white before the overall effect was one of greyness. Scientists say that light-haired people are more likely t become completely grey.

Hair color and quality, like complexion, is often a barometer of health. Severe trauma may prompt the growth of grey hair. And so may a range of diseases, such as influenza, diabetes, typhus, malaria, some forms of herpes and conditions such as malnutrition, hyperthyroidism and anemia. People exposed to some kinds of radiation, whether by accident or therapy, may go grey or lose their hair.

Can hair turn white overnight? Well, not quite so swiftly, but quickly enough to cause considerable distress. A person may be affected by alopecia areata, a disorder brought on often by stress. It may cause older, darker hairs to fall out in just a few days. If the victim already has a substantial scattering of grey or white hairs, the hair will indeed seem to have turned white overnight.

Can the grey-heads hope to see their hair regain its natural color? Indeed they can unless baldness robs them to the little they’ve got. Recent research has found original hues, when greyness results from disease. Anemia sufferers, for instance, who were given vitamin B12, found their hair gradually regaining its color.

For some 40 percent of women and 8 percent of men who now use dyes, new products may offer a change to impregnate their hair with natural melanin, adjusted to almost any shade.

But who says that grey hair is a sign of old age? Every society has outstanding examples to prove the adage that you can have snow on the roof and a blazing fire in the furnace.

Grey Hair- showing characteristics of age, especially having gray or white hair.

Grey Hair – Why does hair turn grey as we grow older?


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