While a “salt and pepper” look is part of graceful aging for many adults, it is with absolute horror that parents encounter the same in their kids. Notwithstanding the numerous questions you get from near and dear and not-so-dear ones, you are also individually worried about how your child will look, especially if graying does not stop on its own. The good news is that once you know the cause of your child’s premature graying, then in most cases, you can treat and cure it. So let us first examine the different causes of premature graying.
- What Causes Premature Grey Hair In Children?
- How Can Premature Gray Hair In Kids Be Cured?
What Causes Premature Gray Hair In Children?
Before answering that question, let us look at another one. What gives hair the black color? Hair follicles contain tiny cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for hair color. Over the course of years, melanocytes start to work lesser and lesser, leading to gray hairs. The rate at which the working of melanocytes declines is different for different individuals – this is why some people get grays earlier than others. Now, why does your child have gray hairs? It could be any of the following reasons:
- Hereditary: This is the top cause for premature graying. Does either you or your spouse have a family history of early onset of graying? Then the chances are your child would have inherited the trait from your genes. Whether the graying will progress with age will depend on if it progressed with age for the person the child inherited it from
- Dandruff: Some of the recent research shows that there is a positive correlation between dandruff and premature graying. However, this does not mean dandruff causes graying. But more appearance of dandruff indicates higher probability of graying
- Genetics: Some kids have genetically premature melanocyte maturation schedule. This means that the melanocytes in their hair follicles will stop working earlier due to their genetic makeup. This is also closely linked to heredity as kids get it mostly when someone else in the family tree also has the same condition
- Vitamin deficiency: A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to premature graying in kids. Since most animal products contain vitamin B12, the chances of a non-vegetarian child having this deficiency is less. However, if your child is vegetarian or follows a vegan diet, then you should do a blood test to determine if there is a B12 deficiency. That said, in some cases, even if the daily intake of B12 is adequate, the child might still have deficiency. This is because some kids (and adults) are not able to absorb and use B12 efficiently in their bodies. This is driven by many factors, such as:
- Stomach surgery
- Small intestine surgery
- Stomach-related diseases like tuberculosis and tapeworms
- Diseases: In some cases, premature graying might be a symptom of a more serious internal disorder. Diseases that are known to induce premature graying in kids are:
- Grave’s disease, a thyroid-gland related disorder (due to an overactive gland)
- Hashimoto’s disease, a thyroid-gland related disorder (due to an under active gland)
- Vitiligo, a skin condition impacting pigmentation
- Waardenburg syndrome, a disorder that causes hearing loss and changes in hair, skin, and eyes’ pigmentation
- Tuberous sclerosis, a genetic disorder that leads to the growth of benign tumors brain
- Neurofibromatosis, a disease in which neurofibromas (tumor formed on nerve cell) form throughout the body
- Anemia can also result in premature graying
- Vogt-Koyanagi syndrome, another rare condition that can results in graying
How Can Premature Gray Hair In Kids Be Cured?
In cases when an underlying medical problem (including a deficiency) is the cause for the premature graying, the graying stops progressing once the underlying problem is treated. In other cases, there are few home remedies you can try to activate those melanocytes:
- Oil infused with curry leaves: Boil pure coconut oil with a bunch of curry leaves. Continue heating until the leaves turns black. Massage on your child’s hair regularly
- Oil infused with amla: Follow the same method as mentioned above, replacing curry leaves with amla. Another way of doing this is to soak an amla in water overnight and use this water to wash your child’s hair
- Taking yoghurt and yeast: Give your child a bowl of yoghurt with one spoon of yeast daily
- Regular application of almond/amla oil: Massage your child’s head with almond and amla oil mixed together. Leave it overnight and then wash the hair the next morning. This will also help in treating premature graying of hair in children
- Weekly application of cow’s milk butter on the scalp
While the hair color does not define who your child is, you should still treat premature graying seriously as it might point to other ailments.