Hair-dye manufacturers take note: Scientists have identified the root cause of gray hair — and a new compound that cures it.
New research reported in the FASEB Journal, published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, shows those silver streaks result from oxidative stress caused by an accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle. This causes hair “to bleach itself from the inside out,” European researchers concluded.
They also said the condition can be remedied with a proprietary treatment described as a topical, UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS — short for pseudocatalase. The same treatment also works for the skin condition, vitiligo.
"To date, it is beyond any doubt that the sudden loss of the inherited skin and localized hair color can affect those individuals in many fundamental ways," said Karin U. Schallreuter, M.D., a researcher from the Institute for Pigmentary Disorders who helped make the discovery, in collaboration with E.M. Arndt University of Greifswald, Germany, and the Centre for Skin Sciences at the University of Bradford, United Kingdom.
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"The improvement of quality of life after total and even partial successful repigmentation has been documented."
The finding was made by analyzing skin biopsies of 2,411 patients with vitiligo. They found some patients had low levels of antioxidants that break down hydrogen peroxide and relieve the oxidative stress that causes hair to turn grey.
Vitiligo patients treated with a PC-KUS cream had both their skin and eye lashes return to their natural color. The researchers said a PC-KUS cream applied to gray hair could restore color in a similar way.
"For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide gray hair," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, "but now, for the first time, an actual treatment that gets to the root of the problem has been developed. While this is exciting news, what's even more exciting is that this also works for vitiligo.
“This condition, while technically cosmetic, can have serious socio-emotional effects of people. Developing an effective treatment for this condition has the potential to radically improve many people's lives."
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