Premature greying of the hair has been found to be more common in patients with a family history of the disorder.

Vitiligo and atopic conditions (with or without a family history) are risk factors, as well as frequent use of hair gels.

This outcome of a descriptive, cross-sectional study was reported at last week’s virtual 13th International Congress of Dermatology (ICD) of the International Society of Dermatology and the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

Anushki Wijeyawardhane, MD, of the District Base Hospital, Theldeniya, and University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, set out to describe sociodemographic characteristics and associated factors of participants whose hair had greyed prematurely. She administered an interviewer-implemented data collection to 135 participants who presented to a dermatology clinic with premature greying of hair. 

Information related to sociodemographic factors and comorbidities was collected and data was analyzed using SPSS. Smoking, alcoholism, the application of hair gel, consumption of fast food, and long-term medication use were observed. Diabetes mellitus, thyroid disorders, vitiligo, and personal atopies were common. The hair of all respondents who consumed alcohol, as well as those who smoked, had greyed prematurely.

The use of hair gel was identified as a significant risk factor for premature greying of hair (odds ratio 3.83, 95% confidence interval 1.77 – 8.54). The presence of a family history of premature greying of hair was a significant risk factor, as were a family history of vitiligo and of atopy.

Dr Wijeyawardhane explained that premature greying of hair is a concern of a large proportion of patients. Grey hair is considered a sign of aging and leads to low self-esteem and psychological morbidity. The etiopathogenesis of premature greying of hair is poorly understood. However, genetic, environmental, and behavioural factors have been implicated.