Gray hair is a physiologically implanted process, the usual manifestation of those biological mechanisms that constantly occur in the human body as age increases. Is it possible to prevent the appearance or treatment of gray hair? In most people, trichologists and dermatologists refer depigmentation of hair to one of the direct effects and one of the first signs of aging.
The mechanism of natural hair discoloration
The hair follicle is a complex structure, on the condition of which the growth and natural coloring of the hair depends. It contains melanocyte cells that synthesize melanin. The latter consists of two pigments – eumelanin, having a black-brown color, and pheomelanin yellow-red. The number and different proportions of these pigments provide brightness and a whole range of all existing shades of hair, which is due to the genetic code.
The hair consists of oblong keratin fibers. They, in turn, are formed as a result of the division of the cells of the hair shaft located in the follicular base. During division and development, cell proteins combine with melanin, which they are supplied with melanocytes, as well as keratin, which is also a protein structure.
As cells develop, cells lose their nucleus and organelles, turning into filamentary keratin protein structures (fibrils). All this occurs cyclically, including the production of melanin, and corresponds to the stages of hair growth. There are two types of melanocytes – active, which break down during catagen (stopping growth), and those that are activated during the next cycle of their hair growth. The stock of melanocytes is limited.
Thus, the color that is provided by melanin depends on the color of the root. The outer part of the hair, that is keratin fibers, does not have the property of taking or giving up melanin. In other words, the hair grows gray from the root as a result of lack or absence of pigment. To lose one’s color within a few hours, it can only be influenced by any chemicals, but not as a result of stress, as some people assume.
Hypothetical causes of gray hair
- Lack of melanocytes or a decrease in their function.
- The emergence between the keratin fibrils of the air layers, as a result of which the refraction of light rays changes, and the hair appears gray.
- Violation of the cleavage of hydrogen peroxide, formed in hair pouches.
The inevitability of graying may be due to factors such as:
- Limited by a stock of melanocytes;
- Damage to the structure of melanocyte DNA by highly active oxygen forms against the background of a decreased function of the skin antioxidant system; As a result, there is accumulation of free radical groups formed under the influence of ultraviolet rays, aggressive chemical elements of the environment, inflammatory processes of the skin and general diseases of the body, leading to a violation of blood microcirculation in bulbs, etc .;
- Decrease in the activity of tyrosinase (the main enzyme involved in melanogenesis), as a result of which the amino acid tyrosine entering the structure of proteins is not absorbed, the interaction of hair cells with melanocytes is disturbed, and migration of the latter into follicles is slowed.
The appearance of gray hair in men is considered normal in 30-35, in women – in 40-45 years. If gray hair appears in 20 years or even in 25 – this is regarded as premature graying. Most men start to get gray from the chin. In women, gray hair appears initially at the temples, and then – on the parietal and occipital areas.
Some trichologists believe that early gray hair occurs as a result of certain viral diseases, for example, caused by cytomegalovirus. Although it is common, only those with reduced immunity become ill.
It is useless to remove gray hair in the hope that new ones will grow with a normal color, since the same inferior melanocytes remain in the hair follicle. The causes of the appearance of gray hair at an early age are different. Their influence is insufficiently studied and in many respects controversial.
Accelerating and predisposing to early sedimentation factors are:
- Genetic predisposition, that is, heredity, similarity in children and parents of the immune system. Preventing or fighting with such gray hair by any methods is useless.
- Stressful conditions, especially chronic. Presumably, stress hormones contribute to the formation of intra-follicular inflammatory processes with the formation of free radical groups, disruption of blood microcirculation in the hair follicles, distortion of signals controlling the delivery of melanin.
- Deficiency of vitamins and microelements, in particular, copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, sulfur, selenium, calcium.
- Endocrine diseases – hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus. Thyroid hormones, for example, affect the structure and pigmentation of the hair. In women, hormonal dysfunction of the sex glands is possible, the cause of which can be established by a gynecologist-endocrinologist.
- Gastrointestinal diseases and liver diseases, as a result of which the cleavage and assimilation of nutrients, vitamins and microelements is disrupted.
- Diets for weight loss and nutrition with insufficient protein content, leading to tyrosine deficiency.
- Anemia of various etiologies, blood diseases.
- Excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays.
Treatment of gray hair
On the question of the possibility of slowing the appearance of gray hair or returning hair to its original color, scientists now do not give such an unambiguous negative answer, as before. Experimentally, in conditions of cell cultures, the ability of melanocytes of white hair to synthesize melanin has been established. However, the universal remedy for gray hair has not yet been invented. Nevertheless, given the mechanisms, causes and contributing factors, it is theoretically considered possible to slow the processes that affect the graying.
For these purposes it is necessary:
- If possible, avoid situations that lead to psychoemotional overwork;
- Restore full nutrition;
- To examine and treat diseases of internal organs, endocrine system, chronic inflammatory and skin diseases;
- Take medications containing basic microelements, as well as vitamins from gray hair in combination with selenium, which have an effect on metabolism and have a pronounced antioxidant effect – ascorbic acid, vitamins “E” and “A”, paraaminobenzoic acid (vitamin “B10” ).
Hardware methods (darsonvalization, iontophoresis, ultrasound, soft laser exposure) contribute to improving blood circulation in the follicles, restoring metabolism and reducing inflammation.
In the case of genetic predisposition, the only reliable way to get rid of gray hair remains masking hair coloring.
Picture Credit: Lightstargod