It might not be the best news for hair colourant manufacturers, but for many men and women who suffer from grey hair, the news today that scientists may have found the reason why our hair becomes discoloured comes as a welcome relief.
In a study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal (FASEB), scientists revealed that people who had greying hair developed ‘massive oxidative stress’, due to an accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle, which then causes the hair to bleach itself from the inside out.
The team of researchers, which includes experts from Bradford University’s School of Life Sciences, and experts from the Centre for Skin Sciences Netherlands and from E.M. Arndt University of Greifswald, Germany, not only discovered the reason why hair turns grey, but also released details of a treatment to halt the discolouration.
The proprietary treatment has been described as a ‘topical, UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS (a modified pseudocatalase)’, and can also be used for people with the skin condition vitiligo, which causes a loss of pigmentation. Sufferers of vitiligo included Michael Jackson.
Study author Professor Karin Schallreuter said: “To date, it is beyond any doubt that the sudden loss of the inherited skin and localised hair colour can affect those individuals in many fundamental ways. The improvement of quality of life after total and even partial successful repigmentation has been documented.”
Schallreuter specialises in vitiligo and it was whilst the research team were studying an international group of 2,411 patients that they made their discovery.
FASEB Journal editor-in-chief Gerald Weissman said: “For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide grey hair 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.”
The pseudocatalase was activated via sunlight, and after treatment, the pigment of the skin and eyelashes on the patients who were tested returned, the researchers said.
At present, it is not known whether the new pseudocatalase treatment will become available for manufacture or whether consumers will be able to purchase this treatment over the counter or via their doctors.
More information is available on this topic at faseb.org