Gray hair in child

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Gray hair in child

Question

My 12-year-old daughter has patches of gray hair. What would cause this?

Kelly
Canada

Answer

Gray hair in a child is an uncommon problem and should be evaluated by a doctor or dermatologist. Causes of gray hair in a child include:

  • Premature graying (canities). This is the same process that occurs with aging in adults when hair pigment cells simply stop making pigment. Most children with this condition are otherwise healthy. Premature graying may also be associated with other conditions, such as vitiligo, alopecia areata, thyroid disorders and anemia, including vitamin B-12 deficiency.
  • Patches of white or gray hair (poliosis). Some children lack pigment cells in a patch of hair follicles at birth. Others lose hair color when the immune system accidentally destroys pigment cells in a localized area. Some forms of poliosis can be inherited. Poliosis may also be associated with certain skin disorders, such as vitiligo, and genetic disorders, such as Marfan's syndrome and Waardenburg's syndrome.

Treatment of graying hair in children is the same as for adults and includes hair dye and various styling techniques.

Last Updated: 04/14/2006
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