Is There a Cure for Gray Hair?
Is there is a cure for gray hair? Maybe. I was 16 when I noticed my first gray hair. For many years after that initial sign of aging those gray hairs were few and far between and readily within the reach of my fingers making them easy to pluck out hiding the evidence. But, by the time I got to my early 30s a critical mass of gray hairs became too much to overcome and if I continued to pluck them I was soon going to be bald. I figured a head of gray hair was better than no hair and gave up the battle.
Actually during those early years of my medical career having some gray hair was advantageous as it gave me a more distinguished look making me look wiser beyond my years – at least that’s what I like to think. I’m not sure it made me any better of doctor, though, but it probably did get me more patients. Having too many gray hairs has the opposite effect. If you have too many gray hairs patients figure you’re over the hill, past your prime, and not up to date on the advancements in medicine.
Fighting Gray Hair
So like many things with our health it’s a matter of balance when it comes to your hair color. Have you noticed how unnatural many TV news reporters/anchors look because they hide all the gray on their heads with overly exuberant dyeing while the skin has lost some of its pigment creating too much of a contrast between dark hair and pale skin? One of my medical school classmates became a well-known Hollywood plastic surgeon. He said one key to plastic surgery is making it look like nothing was done – being subtle. The same is probably true with hair coloring. There now may be a more natural way to fight the graying of hair.
How Hair Turns Gray?
Gray hair is the result of massive oxidative stress on the hair follicle brought on by the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide. Hairs gray from the inside out as hydrogen peroxide blocks the synthesis of melanin, the hair’s natural pigment.
Hydrogen peroxide accumulates because there is a decrease in catalase, the enzyme that breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. In addition, levels of two compounds called MSR A and B become low disrupting the production of tyrosinase an enzyme needed for the production of melanin by the hair follicles. Therefore, hair becomes gray and the hair follicle is unable to undo or repair the loss of melanin.
So What is This Cure for Gray Hair?
There is a UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS which is a modified pseudocatalase. PC-KUS was investigated and found to be effective in reversing the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide and effective in the treatment of patients with vitiligo. Vitiligo is a skin condition caused by the loss melanin due to hydrogen peroxide just like graying hair. This group of 2,411 vitiligo patients demonstrated re-pigmentation of their skin and eyelashes.
The next step will be to test PC-KUS specifically for graying hair. If and when this type of treatment might be commercially available is not known. One clue might be a change in my bio photo.