Why does my kid have grey hair?

The lowdown on the causes behind junior’s premature salt-and-pepper mane. Plus, learn ways to cover it up…

Kids-—-4-reasons-why-junior’s-got-grey-hair-1

Sure, academic stress is stressful but can it really bring about premature greying? Now that the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) is just around the corner, Janet Tan, 40, says that grey hairs have been popping up on her 12-year-old son’s head.

She laments, “I think it’s the stress is causing him to have grey hairs because some of his friends have it, too.”

The grey strands so affected her son’s self-esteem, he puts on a cap or wears a hoodie to hide the tell-tale white patches. Tan says, “To cheer him up, we just joke and say that he has grown a lot wiser because of the PSLE.”

Dr Joyce Lee, a senior consultant at the National Skin Centre, notes that there is no scientific evidence to prove that mental stress causes a child’s hair to turn white prematurely. In medicine, the phrase “premature greying” refers to people whose hair turns grey before age 25. In fact, most Asians typically do not develop white hair until they are in their late 30s.

Dr Nisha Suyien Chandran, who heads the Dermatology division at the National University Hospital, agrees that there is no scientific evidence to prove that emotional or physical stress causes hair to grey ahead of its time. However, she points out that melanocyte cells ― which produce the pigment melanin that’s responsible for one’s hair and skin colour ― are sensitive to oxidative stress, such that the amount of free radicals in your body surpasses the level of antioxidants.

“It is difficult to detect grey hairs in the first few months as the infant is covered with lanugo (fine soft hair) — soft and lightly pigmented hairs — on his whole body.”

In fact, Dr Eileen Tan, a Mount Elizabeth Hospital dermatologist, adds that grey hair can develop at any age, even from birth. “It is difficult to detect grey hairs in the first few months as the infant is covered with lanugo (fine soft hair) — soft and lightly pigmented hairs — on his whole body.”