Premature White and Grey Hair in Children: Causes & Home Remedies

Premature White and Grey Hair in Kids

Salt and pepper hair can add a specific power to your appearance as you age. But when kids have white and grey strands of hair on their heads, it is a problem. It is okay to notice one or two grey strands on your child’s head, but you need to pay attention if the grey area is more.

Premature greying does not ill affect the child’s health, but hair greying may indicate other problems in the body. It can also have a psychological effect on your child. Therefore, the best way to combat this is to get to the root of the problem and take preventive measures from early on.

Also Read: How to Care for Your Child’s Curly Hair?

Is It Okay for a Child to Have Grey Hair?

It is not uncommon for a child to have grey hair, although it is relatively rare. The presence of grey hair in children can be attributed to various factors, such as genetics or certain medical conditions. While it may seem unusual, it is generally not a cause for concern or a sign of significant health issues. Grey hair occurs when there is a reduction in the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for hair colour. This reduction can happen at any age, including during childhood. In most cases, grey hair in children results from genetics and does not indicate any underlying health problems.

If you notice that your child has grey hair, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional to rule out any potential medical conditions. They can evaluate your child’s overall health and provide appropriate guidance if necessary. However, without any concerning symptoms or other health issues, having grey hair as a child is generally considered a natural variation and not a cause for worry.

Causes of Premature White and Grey Hair in Kids

If you notice grey or white hair on your child’s head too often, most likely, it will be because of a deficiency in his body. While there are many reasons for white hair in childhood, most can be treated and cured. A few of the most common causes of white hair in children are stated below:

1. Genetics

The most common cause of premature greying of hair in children is genetics. Simply put, if the parents or grandparents had a similar problem of premature greying of hair in their childhood, the children will also be at a higher risk of this condition. Early-onset of greying hair can be passed on hereditarily and is a primary reason for premature greying of hair in children. Some other conditions acquired hereditarily include progeria, Werner syndrome, Rothmund-Thompson syndrome, etc.

2. Medical Conditions

Premature greying of hair in children may indicate something more serious. Loss of hair pigmentation is a symptom of several disorders, like vitiligo and piebaldism. Melanin is the pigment responsible for the colour of the skin and hair. When the melanocyte cannot produce melanin in the skin, a person may suffer from vitiligo, which is characterised by white patches. Similarly, when the thyroid gland does not function properly, it is overactive or underactive. This condition occurs in diseases like Grave’s or Hashimoto’s, resulting in premature hair greying. However, it is not the only symptom in these cases; the child may also suffer from tumours, hearing loss, and seizures with the loss of hair colour.

3. Deficiency of Vitamin B12

A deficiency of Vitamin B12 in the body can also result in the premature greying of hair in children. Vitamin B12 is not found in enough quantities in a vegetarian diet, so children following a vegetarian diet are at a higher risk of developing this condition.

4. Stress

While not common, stress in children may also result in premature greying of their hair. However, here stress does not mean psychological stress. It is genotoxic stress, which is caused due to environmental factors.

A stressed Kid

5. Using Synthetic Soaps and Shampoos

We all know that the quality of hair products has degraded over the years. The hair care products we use today differ from what they used to be some ten to fifteen years ago. The synthetic soaps and shampoos that children use today can make their hair rough and even cause greying of hair. As a parent, you must take care from early on, as adult shampoo can make a child’s hair rough and frizzy. You must use baby shampoo for your child, as it contains extracts of vitamins and minerals in it. You can also opt for herbal shampoos to wash your baby’s hair.

Also Read: Hair Fall in Children

6. Exposure to Smoke

If a child is constantly exposed to smoke, it can result in premature greying of hair too. Passive smoking can also cause oxidative stress in your child’s body, lowering melanin production. Therefore, smoking in children should be avoided to prevent this from happening.

7. Eating Unhealthy Foods

With the fast-food culture in place, it is no wonder that premature greying is becoming more common in the modern world. Menkes hair syndrome and Kwashiorkor (protein malnutrition) can also cause premature greying of hair.

8. Anaemia

Iron deficiency can result in anaemia, which results in fatigue and whitening of the hair in children. Pernicious anaemia can also cause premature greying of hair in children.

Also Read: Dandruff in Kids

9. Autoimmune Disorders

Many autoimmune disorders can contribute to the development of grey hair in children. Conditions like vitiligo, which causes the loss of skin pigmentation, can also affect the hair follicles and lead to the growth of grey or white hair. Autoimmune disorders can disrupt the normal melanin production process, resulting in premature greying, which is common today. Menkes hair syndrome and Kwashiorkor (protein malnutrition) can also cause premature greying of hair.

10. Poliosis

Poliosis is a condition characterised by a patch or patches of grey or white hair in a localised area. It can occur in children and is often caused by a decrease or absence of melanin production in specific hair follicles. Poliosis can be congenital or acquired, and the exact cause is not always clear. 

11. Environmental Factors

Although less common, certain environmental factors can contribute to developing grey hair in children. Exposure to certain chemicals, toxins, or radiation can affect melanin production and lead to premature greying. For instance, exposure to heavy metals like lead or exposure to radiation therapy for medical purposes can impact the pigmentation of the hair.

Treatment for Premature White and Grey Hair in Children

No treatment or medication will help treat premature greying of hair in children. The only treatment for greying hair is eating nutritious foods. You should make sure that your child eats healthy food. In most cases, the condition occurs as a result of improper nutrition. The deficiency of Vitamin B12 and minerals like copper and zinc in the body can also result in greying of hair, but this can be controlled using vitamin supplements or by giving children healthy food. You must pay attention if the child is genetically inclined towards premature greying. If greying of hair is a result of other conditions or syndromes, get those conditions treated, and premature greying of hair will reduce considerably.

Nutrients That Can Help Prevent Premature Greying of Hair

You can prevent his hair from greying by including healthy foods in your child‘s diet. Whatever you plan to feed your child, ensure it is packed with essential nutrients. Below are some important vitamins and minerals that prevent premature greying.

1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is found in green vegetables and yellow fruits. This vitamin helps improve the health of the scalp and hair in general. It also ensures that the hair stays lustrous.

2. Vitamin B

Vitamin B12 is vital for healthy hair. Vitamin B keeps the oil secretion in control and keeps the hair healthy and soft for a long. Vitamin B is found in yoghurt, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, cauliflowers, and bananas. So make sure you include these foods in your child’s diet.

Vitamin B for healthy hair

3. Minerals

Iron, zinc, and copper are essential minerals for healthy hair. These minerals will help retain the quality of your child’s hair and lower premature greying of hair. Zinc is found in green vegetables, chicken and red meat, while the mineral iron is found in eggs, dried apricots, wheat, parsley, and sunflower seeds. To meet his copper requirements, include whole grain foods or seafood. All these minerals, if provided in adequate quantities, can prevent premature greying of hair.

4. Proteins

Protein maintains the shine of hair and improves its texture. Whole grains, soy, cereals, and meat are important protein sources. So, add these protein-rich foods to your child’s diet.

5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

In fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as in flaxseeds and walnuts, omega-3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and potential benefits for overall hair health. They can help maintain the integrity of hair follicles and promote healthy hair growth, potentially reducing the likelihood of premature greying.

6. Antioxidants

Including a variety of antioxidants in your kid’s diet can be beneficial for hair health. Antioxidants help protect the body’s cells, including those responsible for hair pigmentation, from damage caused by free radicals. Foods rich in antioxidants include berries (such as blueberries and strawberries), green leafy vegetables, green tea, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.

7. Biotin

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is a water-soluble vitamin that supports the health of hair, skin, and nails. Maintaining adequate biotin levels through foods like eggs, nuts, legumes, and whole grains can improve hair health.

Note: Before giving your child any nutrient supplements, consult the doctor and check for any allergies your child may have.

Home Remedies for Grey Hair

Greying of hair in children can be tackled with natural remedies. Here are a few things you can try at home if you are wondering how to stop premature greying of hair in children.

1. Amla and Coconut oil

Amla has Vitamin C and antioxidants, which can play a huge role in remedying the grey hair. Applying coconut oil on scalp preserves the pigment cells in hair follicles, which give the hair its natural colour. Coconut oil also moisturises the scalp and improves the strength of hair. For this remedy, boil amla and coconut oil together and massage your child’s scalp with it.

2. Amla Juice and Almond Oil

Almond oil also contains Vitamin E, which is another nutrient that plays a key role in keeping the hair healthy. It also reverses the process of premature greying of hair. Mix almond oil and amla juice in equal amounts and massage your child’s scalp with this mixture for best results.

Almond oil and amla powder

3. Curry Leaves and Coconut Oil

Curry leaves are also known to reverse the process of greying of hair. Curry leaves can help boost the production of melanin, which gives the hair its natural colour. For this remedy, boil the leaves in coconut oil till they turn black. Then apply the oil on your child’s hair to prevent premature whitening of hair.

4. Ghee (Cow’s Milk)

Ghee is packed with enzymes that retain the shine of the hair and also strengthen the roots to a great extent. Apply ghee twice a week, and leave it on for an hour for best results.

5. Almond Oil and Sesame Seeds

Blend almond oil and sesame seeds in a blender and apply this mixture on your child’s scalp and massage for about 20 minutes. Let it sit for another 20 minutes and wash it off with a herbal shampoo and lukewarm water.

Lemon juice

6. Black Tea Rinse

Black tea contains tannins, which are believed to help darken hair. To try this remedy, brew a strong black tea and let it cool. Then, use it as a hair rinse after shampooing your child’s hair. Allow the tea to sit on the hair briefly before rinsing it. It’s important to note that results may vary and take several applications before any potential effects become noticeable.

These home remedies are extremely effective for childhood grey hair, but do not take any chances. Try these remedies once you have your doctor’s approval.

Precautionary Tips

Stated below are a few precautionary tips that you should follow if your child has grey hair.

  • Do not wash your child’s hair with hot water. Hot water can destroy melanocytes, which assist in the production of melanin.
  • Another cause of premature greying is overexposure to UV Rays. So make sure your child doesn’t spend too much time basking in the sun.
  • If you notice any grey or white strand of hair on your child’s scalp, do not pluck it.
  • Ensure that your child’s iodine intake is adequate. He should consume it in moderation – too much or too less of it can affect the thyroid gland and result in premature greying of hair.
  • Ensure your child follows a well-balanced and nutritious diet to contribute to healthy hair growth. Include foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support hair health, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. 
  • Encourage your child to engage in stress-reducing activities, such as outdoor play, hobbies, exercise, or spending time with loved ones.

Is It Safe for Children to Dye Their Hair?

It depends on your child’s age and the root cause of their early hair greying. Typically, colouring their hair is not advisable for children attending school, given that these dyes often contain chemicals that might pose more significant risks to children than adults. If your child is distressed by their white hair and insists on dyeing it, it’s advisable to seek guidance from a doctor who can recommend safe products.

White or grey hair in children can stem from diverse genetic, dietary, and environmental influences. However, most underlying triggers may not be preventable and generally don’t adversely affect a child’s overall well-being. Nonetheless, if you’re concerned about your child’s premature hair greying, it’s advisable to consult a doctor to comprehend the causes and explore potential solutions or treatments. Moreover, providing substantial emotional support to your child is essential to mitigate any detrimental impacts of this condition on their mental health.

Overall, exercising caution and making an informed decision based on the child’s age, hair type, and potential sensitivities is essential. Consulting with a  professional hairstylist experienced in working with children can provide additional guidance and help ensure the safety of the process.

FAQs

1. Do White or Gray Hair Have Any Psychological Impact on Children?

The psychological impact of white or grey hair on children can vary depending on the individual child, their environment, and cultural factors. White or grey hair is relatively uncommon in children and might attract peer attention, leading to potential teasing, curiosity, or questions. Some children may feel self-conscious or different because of their hair colour. If a child feels negative about their white or grey hair due to societal beauty standards or the desire to fit in, it may impact their self-confidence and overall well-being.

Cultural beliefs and family attitudes towards hair colour can also significantly affect how a child perceives their hair. In some cultures, grey hair may be revered or seen as a sign of wisdom, while in others, it may be associated with ageing or negative connotations. Children’s ability to cope with and adapt to differences in their appearance can vary. Some children may positively embrace and view their unique hair colour, while others may struggle with acceptance. Supportive and nurturing environments, where individual differences are celebrated, can foster resilience and a positive self-image.

Parents, guardians, and educators need to create an inclusive and supportive environment that promotes self-acceptance and self-esteem. Encouraging open communication, providing accurate information about hair colour diversity, and teaching children to value uniqueness can mitigate any potential negative psychological impact. 

Premature greying affects many children. However, it can easily be controlled using home remedies and your child’s diet. So, try these home remedies after consulting with a doctor.

References/Resources:

1. Biani. Y, Wel. G, Song. X, et al.; Global downregulation of pigmentation‑associated genes in human premature hair graying; Experimental And Therapeutic Medicine; https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/0110/de90a7deb142ca9ea1e8daf48f12814e6c96.pdf; September 2018

2. Chakrabarty. S, Krishnappa. P. G, Gowda. D. G, et al.; Factors Associated with Premature Hair Graying in a Young Indian Population; International Journal of Trichology; PubMed Central;  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4830165/; March 2016

3. Familial aggregation of phenotypic expression of premature hair hypopigmentation in the craniofacial region; Dentistry 3000; https://dentistry3000.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/dentistry3000/article/view/31

4. Bhusnure. O, Halke. N. S, Gholve. S, et al.; Holistic Approaches to Maintain Healthy Hairs of Human Being;  Semantic Scholar; https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Holistic-Approaches-to-Maintain-Healthy-Hairs-of-Bhusnure-Halke/d1cc75b825009e274bb43b1e1e029a839ff11c4c?p2df; 2015

5. Kumar. A. B; Shamim. H, Nagaraju. U; Premature Graying of Hair: Review with Updates; International Journal of Trichology; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6290285/; October 2018

6. Masaya. S, Masatoshi. A, Toshihide. S; Impact of a Novel Digital Therapeutics System on Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis: The NASH App Clinical Trial; The American Journal of Gastroenterology; https://journals.lww.com/ajg/fulltext/2023/08000/impact_of_a_novel_digital_therapeutics_system_on.17.aspx; August 2023

Also Read: Home Remedies for Head Lice in Kids

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