Why Some Diseases Cause Your Hair Color to Change

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Changes in your hair color can be a symptom of certain diseases, including osteoporosis, immune system and autoimmune disorders, Werner's syndrome, and vitiligo. Color change is usually associated with the number and activity of cells that produce pigment. The usual color change is from your natural color to gray.

Osteoporosis

  • Osteoporosis is commonly associated with lower hormone levels that may result in premature gray hair. Melanocytes, cells that produce the pigment in your hair and skin, produce less pigment and your hair color gradually fades.

Immune System Disease

  • An immune system disease like HIV is thought to alter hair follicle activity. When HIV progresses to AIDS, a patient usually suffers nutritional deficiencies, which alter the levels of hormones that affect melanocytes. This can result in changes in hair color.

Autoimmune Diseases

  • Autoimmune disorders of the thyroid, like Grave's or Hashimoto's disease, can have a widespread effect on many cells in the body. It can result in the production of fewer melanocytes, so there is less overall pigment.

Werner's Syndrome

  • Werner's Syndrome causes premature aging. It is a rare genetic disease that usually begins in adolescence. Cell atrophy and cell death results in signs of old age, such as thinning of the skin, arterial diseases, and gray hair.

Vitiligo

  • Vitiligo is characterized by depigmentation from the death of melanocytes. There imay be premature graying of the hair as well as white patches on the skin.

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