With just a few months of being in quarantine, you may notice that you tend to have gray hairs faster than usual.
This fast-spreading of gray in people’s hair – that some people are just having for their first time – have increased during the lockdown. Although it could be disputed that the pandemic does contribute to people having gray hairs, science tells us that the culprit in this scenario is stress.
People have always blamed stress for the physical manifestation of gray hairs, whether during the coronavirus or not. This explanation is a reasonable one. People have made fun of people not being able to sleep during quarantine, but this is true. Several women have missed their menstrual periods due to this stress, and they have also lost sleep due to this anxiety.
There are several ways that stress shows itself in the human body; chronic inflammation and stress acne are some of the most popular effects induced by stress. However, how does stress affect the color of our hair, – or, to put it more precisely, the absence of – is not fully understood.
Besides been caused by stress, people need to know the process of getting gray hairs. It is normal to begin getting gray hair as we age, especially after 30 years old (if you have gray hairs before you turn 30, you are graying prematurely). Genetics gives us the most precise period that we begin to get gray hair. Every follicle of the hair comes with pigment cells, known as melanocytes. With time, the cell will eventually die out as if it were programmed to do so,” noted Shilpi Khertapal, MD, a Cleveland-based dermatologist at a Clinic in Ohio. The melanocytes eventually die off. This death shrinks out the quantity of pigment present in the hair. This, in turn, lightens up the hair strands and turns them gray in the process.
Despite the agreement among experts that stress is connected to graying, it can not be established biologically that they are both connected. It is simple – or can be, if genetics was only considered in this case. Everything is decided by both your environment and your genes. For example, people who smoke get exposed to the sun, pollution, and different environmental triggers. Also, people who expose themselves to external stress-causing agents, that can surely quicken this process.
These factors can rapidly accelerate aging among people. People could begin noticing their first gray hairs or a more pronounced graying between six and eight weeks after the beginning of a major stress-causing agent. With this consideration, it is reasonable that currently, several months into the lockdown, people are increasingly getting grays. The outcome of this is that even if you have been programmed to begin graying at 35 if you feel frazzled, you could start seeing gray hairs pretty soon.
Despite the agreement among experts that stress is connected to graying, it cannot be established biologically that they are both connected. Some researchers state that Cortisol, a stress hormone that supports breakouts, affects the melanocytes at the root of the hair follicles. Others have said that it is caused by the action of free radicals – non-stable molecules that eventually damage cells – brought about through inflammation affects the health of follicles.
A fresh study printed in Nature shows a new theory. This new analysis states that stress does not harm the hair follicles or the melanocytes; instead, it hurts the hair stem cells, producing new melanocytes. If triggered by stress, the body’s sympathetic nervous system (that works automatically to help the body respond to harmful situations) leads to non-active melanocyte stem cells – these are cells waiting to be triggered for the production of hair pigment – to wake, split, and die.
What is more surprising is the researchers’ conclusion, which says that Cortisol is not the causative agent of the dying-off of the stem cell. However, a different stress hormone known as noradrenaline, which is also norepinephrine which is known as the fight-or-flight reaction. It is the link to the graying caused by stress.
The difference between noradrenaline and Cortisol is essential because they are both connected to separate stress types. Khertapal would explain that noradrenaline is released by the body while under extreme stress – in the presence of a proximate physical or emotional threat or undergoing a traumatic event (for instance, the global pandemic). The hormone, noradrenaline, is capable of speeding up the heart rate, making the palms sweaty, and can lead to graying. It can safely be assumed that the current pandemic – which has impacted job, disturbed routines, and with people being always anxious about contacting the fatal coronavirus – may undoubtedly become a source of chronic stress. On the other hand, Cortisol tends to rise increasingly in the presence of chronic stress. Fortunately, daily work stress will not make your hair gray.
Unluckily, the moment that stress-related graying begins, it has a permanent effect. It is well understood that there are currently no known ways to have the stem cells working again. The moment these things occur, the concerned follicle will indefinitely become white or gray. With a lack of color, the moment the hair goes gray, there is nothing that one can do to reverse it.
With this said, the stress-graying trend can be interrupted, knowing that your control of this process is limited – because not everybody has a similar biochemical reaction to chronic stress. From a solution offered by experts and one great place to begin is by using methods of reducing stress such as meditation, yoga, as well as other stress-reducing techniques. This could stop more damage or slow down this process.
The general healthy lifestyle, which includes taking in a balanced diet and partaking in exercises, to help fight off the effects of noradrenaline. We have different neurotransmitters triggered during exercise that can help also. Research from the Brain Sciences journal discovers that exercise can control the amount of noradrenaline released in the presence of extreme stress – and based on this study, this is a persuasive reason to take a walk.
One more option? Accepting your gray hair. Honestly, gray-haired people have always been appreciated; therefore, it is not a bad thing, if anything. Lots of women may find it surprising that it came along too quickly. This is in agreement with lots of things currently, at least everyone is going through the pandemic.