White Hair in Teens- But Why?

Hairs are dead cells that grow through a cycle of dying and then being regenerated. With the increase in age, the hair follicles start to produce less pigment(melanin) responsible for giving color to the hair.

However, the presence of white hair in teens is definitely a matter of grave concern. 

Every human has to go through this phase of white hair, but its starting time is a matter of concern. Usually, when people enter their 35 years, they begin to experience the growth of white hairs.

But some teenagers have also been noticed with white hair in their 20s.

In some cases, genetics is the reason, while in others, deficiency of necessary melanin elements is the cause.

Well, it also depends on the perspective of the person. Some people celebrate having grey hair thinking it as a sign of maturity and wisdom. While some people feel having grey hair is a sign of older days.

It’s normal to have white hair as you get older. Similarly, it’s unusual for teenagers to have white hair. 

What Does White Hair in Teens Symbolize?

In the case of older adults, having white hair is normal but when teenagers have white hair, understand your body is trying to tell you something. 

Here are some following factors that your body might be indicating if you are getting white hair before the right time.

Genetics: The first and the most apex indication is your genetics. Many teenagers who have white hair are because of their genetics; inherited hormones from their parents. 

Premature whitening of hair is majorly related to your parents’ genetics, says the Indian Journal of Dermatology and Leprology 2013. Additionally, both race and ethnicity play a vital role in the whitening of hair among teenagers.

Premature whitening of hair starts as early as 20 years old, while the age can be 25 years and 30 years in the Asian and African-Americans populations.

But among such teenagers, there are some others as well who cause the growth of white hair. 

Oxidative Stress: Apart from genetics, oxidative stress in the body also plays a vital role in the growth of white hair in teenagers.

Oxidation stress results in the imbalance of antioxidants that are not enough to counteract the damage caused by free radicals.

In fact, extreme oxidative stress levels can result in the development of diseases, such as skin-pigment conditions, and vitiligo. It causes the deficiency of melanin cells or loss of melanin cell function.

This has also come into the study from New York University in Nature Medicine stating that the cells that are responsible for the color of hair may get depleted when the body is under stress.

Some Health Conditions: Health complications, such as autoimmune skin conditions, cause hair loss on the scalp, face, and the other parts of the body. In such cases, when the hair grows back, they tend to be white because of melanin deficiency.

Finasteride, sold under the brand names Proscar or Finpecia, is used for the treatment of hair loss in men. 

A man smoking cigarette
Bruce Mars/Pexels

Smoking: Smoking habits will put you at the risk of early hair loss and hair whitening. This is something you will get to know on your own if you are a smoker or any one of your known ones has the habit of smoking. You don’t need to go for a google search or any study regarding it. 

Well, suppose you want any specific information. In that case, you can refer to a study, Indian Dermatology Online Journal in National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2013 that shows smokers are at 21/2 times higher risk of getting white hair before 30 years as compared to non-smokers. 

Another study in 2015, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, demonstrated the relationship between premature white hairs in young men.

Also Read: Lung Cancer: Quit Smoking to Save Your Lungs

Chemical Hair Products: Using chemical dyes and hair products, such as shampoos, conditioners, or hair dryers, contributes to white hairs. Many such products have harmful chemicals that can lead to the depletion of melanin in the skin.

After knowing the cause of the white hairs among teenagers, it will become easy for you to treat it accordingly, so here we go.

How can white hair in teens be fixed?

There are some lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to make your white hair black, such as:-

Consume Enough Vitamins: Keeping the causes of white hair in teens in mind, deficiencies in some of the essential vitamins can lead to white hair in teenagers. Teenagers who have white hair are found with a deficiency in the following vitamins:-

  • Vitamin B, especially B-12 and biotin
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin A

Fulfilling the need for these vitamins can help your body grow black hair instead of white.

Intake Enough Minerals: Just like vitamins, some minerals also play a vital role in the growth of black hairs. The deficiency of these minerals can lead to melanin deficiency, responsible for giving colour to your hairs. Such minerals are as follows:-

  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Copper

Quit Smoking: Unhealthy habit of smoking majorly contributed to melanin deficiency in the hair roots’ pores. Smokers are at 21/2 times higher risk of getting white hair as compared to non-smokers. Although if you have a habit of smoking, stop it if you want your hair to be black.

Avoid Direct Sunlight: Direct sunlight on the head also affects melanin’s availability under hair roots. Thus, avoid too much sun exposure to your head. You can cover your head with a hat or scarf if you have to be in direct sunlight.

Avoid Using Chemical Products: Some chemical products, such as shampoo, conditioner, or hairdryer, cause the depletion of melanin from the pores of your head. Such products also contribute to the occurrence of white hairs. Avoid using such hair care products.

Some Home Remedies: Regular application or intake of coconut oil, ginger, blackstrap molasses, amla, black sesame seeds, ghee, amaranth, wheatgrass juice, carrot juice, almond oil can also help to nourish your melanin level. Instead of applying cream and gel, try using products that nourish your scalp.

In simple terms, you can understand, all the things that clear the melanin from your skin’s pores are responsible for the occurrence of white hairs in teenagers.

If you have any confusion or doubt regarding this, try consulting with the doctor. There are many such ways of treating white hairs into black. You can also consult with your dermatologist for the best possible results.

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Julain Carter is mental health expert for Goodrxmedicine.com. He is an experienced clinical mental health counsellor with recognition in cognitive behavioural therapy. Julian’s sharp behavioural observations reflect in both his personal and professional life.