induced gray hair
Gray or white hair onset can be due to the development of vitiligo.
Vitiligo involves a progressive loss of pigment from the epidermis.
Milky-white patches of skin appear resulting in cosmetic disfiguration
that is most apparent in dark-skinned individuals. Vitiligo is a
disease with autoimmune components where the melanocyte pigment
producing cells are disrupted. While this commonly affects the pigment
cells in the skin, if the vitiligo develops in a hair bearing area,
the melanocytes in the hair follicles can also be adversely affected.
The result can be patchy gray or white hair growth.
Interestingly for hair biologists, hair follicles in vitiligo patches
can be resistant to loss of pigment. While the melanocyte pigment
producing cells in the skin are rapidly destroyed, the melanocytes
in the hair follicles can survive for some time before succumbing
to the disease. It seems that the hair follicles provide some protection
from the effect of vitiligo - at least for a while. This phenomenon
has been exploited in some approaches to vitiligo treatment. Once
the vitiligo has stabilized, it is possible to transplant pigmented
skin and hair follicles to areas of vitiligo and the melanocytes
in the transplant spread out into the diseased skin and repigment
it. The belief is that the hair follicles provide a reservoir of
melanocytes which are able to proliferate and repopulate the skin.
induced gray hair references
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