Melanin is responsible for hair pigmentation in the body. It is produced in melanocytes (cells located in the bulbs). The latter, in turn, start working even before the birth of a child. Gradually, the production of the substance responsible for the colour of the hair stops, and the hair turns grey. However, this only occurs when a person reaches a certain age (30 years or older). So why does a child have grey hair? This feature may be a manifestation of both genetics and underlying medical conditions.
Causes of grey hair in children
Melanin production is controlled by the pituitary, thyroid and sex glands. This process is influenced by mediators (biologically active substances that contribute to the nerve impulse) of the sympathetic nervous system. Melanin production is reduced, causing premature greying when one of the above-mentioned systems becomes dysfunctional.
Before we tackle the causes of premature graying, we need to understand the natural processes by which it occurs. Several pigments contribute to the individual colouring of hair:
- Pheomelanin. Red and yellow.
- Eumelanin. Black and brown.
- Ossymelanin. Light.
- Triochromes. Red.
These pigments, when mixed together, determine the colour of a child’s hair, and the saturation depends on the amount of the substance entering the hair. The intensity of the pigment intake depends on the functional activity of the myelocytes, which decreases as a person ages, causing graying. However, there is another reason: hydrogen peroxide. It is contained in the hair shaft, but is neutralised by catalase, but as we age it begins to be less and less produced in the body and performs its function.
Grey hair in children can be caused by a genetic factor, e.g. parents have this trait.
Note: Grey-haired children can also appear due to other causes – albinism, i.e. the complete or partial absence of the melanin pigment in the body.
If gray strands of hair appear in a child, it signals a disorder in the functioning of an organ or system of organs. What else could be the cause:
- Diseases of the internal organs: liver, heart, kidneys.
- Endocrine gland disorders.
- Worm infestations.
- Fungal infections, e.g., shingles.
- Infectious diseases.
- Reduced immunity.
Hair pigmentation is established before birth and regulated by the pituitary gland. The colour and its intensity are influenced by the nature of the redistribution of melanin species and the amount of melanin entering the hair.
Interesting: If a child is born with few grey hairs, this is not a reason to panic. However, if there are many and it is not a genetic predisposition, it is a reason to see a doctor.
Why does a child get a grey strand of hair? Causes:
- Maternal stress during pregnancy.
- Taking antibiotics late in pregnancy.
- Peculiarities of the baby’s development.
- Genetic diseases.
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Grey hair can appear in a baby over time. If it is not due to heredity, a doctor should be consulted to check for hidden diseases.
There are reasons why a baby turns grey:
- Mother’s stress during breastfeeding. Stress hormones are produced in the breastfeeding body and passed on to the baby with milk. They cause the hair to turn grey.
- Genetic diseases that interfere with the body’s production of melanin.
- Insufficient intake of nutrients, especially vitamin B12.
Vitiligo causes gray
The condition is autoimmune in nature. The real causes are still unknown. During the course of the disease, the immune system cells destroy melanocytes. The consequence is that areas of skin appear milky coloured and devoid of pigment. If the skin area is located on the head, the hair, eyebrows and eyelashes are also depigmented.
The disease may occur at any stage of the life of the individual, starting at an early age and is not harmful to the body. It only causes a cosmetic defect.
Note: The treatment is only aimed at preventing the further development of the pathology.
Turning grey due to neurofibromatosis
This is a genetic disease. It manifests itself by the formation of benign tumours of neural tissue, which arise in the course of their growth and developmental disorder. It is manifested by abnormal pigmentation of the skin and hair.
Pre-school and primary school age children
Grey hair may appear at any age. In pre-school and primary school children, this disorder can manifest itself for a number of reasons:
- Long-term stress from overwork.
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies resulting from a poor diet. This means a deficiency of vitamin B12, A, C, E, copper and zinc.
- A disruption of the endocrine system, including the thyroid gland, which affects internal organs and melanocyte activity. Thyroid activity is directly linked to iodine intake into the body.
- Diseases of the digestive organs, due to which the absorption of nutrients, vitamins and minerals is impaired.
- Chemotherapy disrupts the pigmentation in the body, and after treatment the grey hair disappears.
- Diseases of the internal organs: heart, kidneys, liver.
- Immune system disorders.
Interesting: grey hair in a child of 5 years may appear due to infectious diseases: herpes, acute respiratory infections with complications.
At the age of 13, 14, 15, 16, children begin a hormonal change in the body. This can lead to the problem of grey hair. Insufficient activity of the sex glands and, conversely, an overactive thyroid gland lead to abnormal pigment formation and the appearance of grey hair.
Improper nutrition, namely inadequate intake of nutrients in the body, can provoke the appearance of pathology. The graying of hair in adolescents is caused by negative environmental influences, such as neglecting to wear headgear in the cold.
So why is a teenager’s hair turning grey? Stress and irregular hair regimes, and overdoing it, especially when combined with smoking, can lead to impaired melanin production in the cells. This also leads to an early onset of grey hair.
If a few gray hairs have appeared on the head of a child, there is no reason to panic. The only thing to do is to watch for further developments. If an entire lock of grey has appeared or a large part of the head has turned silver, this is a reason to consult a doctor, especially if there is no family history of early grey hairs.
After taking a medical history, the specialist will refer you to a more specific specialist, such as an endocrinologist, neurologist or dermatologist, for a more detailed examination of the body’s functioning and to identify the cause.
Methods of treatment
To get rid of early graying in children, you need a comprehensive approach to combat it. First you need to find the cause of its appearance, to establish a treatment plan, and then act.
Often the cause of graying is a lack of vitamins. This includes vitamins B12, A, E, and C. A variety of fruit and vegetables is advisable, or if this is not possible for some reason, vitamin supplements may be added.
To get rid of silver hair strands in the child’s hair, you need to balance his diet. He should receive sufficient nutrients: vitamins and minerals, among them copper, zinc and iodine.
Mesotherapy is an injection of vitamins and amino acids into the skin. This helps to improve the metabolic processes in the scalp and to cope with grey hair over time. However, injections won’t help in one go, a course of about 10 treatments is needed. This treatment is indicated for children of any age except very young: newborns and infants.
If the graying appeared in a child due to a lack of vitamins and nutrients and there is no desire to resort to the help of artificial micronutrients, the daily consumption of parsley juice will help. It has all the necessary vitamins.Black sesame has the same properties, it contains vitamin E and fatty acids. Eating sesame can help prevent melanin from breaking down in the body.
What you should not do if you have grey hair
Gray hairs should not be shaved, clipped or plucked. Dyeing won’t solve the problem, but it can also lead to poisoning due to toxic fumes. These manipulations will not stop gray hairs from growing and can only make the situation worse.
Vitamin and mineral supplements should not be added to the menu without consulting your doctor, nor should you choose your own treatment if you have the condition.
In order that the child has no health problems, the conditions for harmonious growth and development must be created. This begins at conception. Expectant and breastfeeding mothers should avoid stressful situations, enrich their diet with all necessary vitamins and minerals and not take any medication without consulting a doctor.
To prevent early grey hair, children need vitamins and minerals, preferably from natural sources: fruit and vegetables. The health status of children and young people shouldalso be taken care of, paying particular attention to the activity of the endocrine glands.
If your child has grey hair, it is not a death sentence. You can get rid of it if you know the cause. It is usually due to inadequate or improper nutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies. However, many other unpleasant illnesses can be at the root of the problem. In this case, you should get them checked by a doctor.
When treating grey hair in a child, prescribe vitamins containing B vitamins, copper, zinc and iron. Apply a pollen mask. The bee product will revitalise the bulbs and nourish the roots.
When this pigment is no longer produced, hair loses its colour and grows grey. Therefore, if you pull out a grey hair, it will simply grow a new one in its place within a few months, without melanin and therefore without pigment.