Help! My teenager has greying hair

My son is only 16 years old but 75 percent of his hair is grey. We were advised to shave it off but the regrown hair is also grey. He doesn’t have dandruff. Is his greying hair because of vitamin deficiency or a skin disorder? Will medication or protein supplements help? Should he use hair dye? — Imtiaz Ali, Hyderabad

Your son is suffering from premature canities which results from deficiency of the pigment melanin that gives hair its black colour. It could also be a genetic disorder. Some research studies attribute it to iron, copper, zinc, vitamin B12, para amino benzoic acid and calcium panthothenate deficiency. Consult a dermatologist who may prescribe dietary supplements. Though hair dye is not usually advised for age specific contraindication, it’s best to avoid synthetic, organic and metallic dyes. Instead opt for vegetable hair dyes.

My 17-year-old daughter is recovering from chicken pox and the marks are still present all over her body. Will they fade on their own or should I consult a dermatologist for medication? — Valerie Francis, Bangalore

If anti-viral and prophylactic oral antibiotics are administered at the appropriate time during illness, they will prevent later scar formation and pigmentation. If the patient has troublesome scarring on the face and neck, it is better to consult a dermatologist for treatment. Natural resolution of skin scarring takes some time.

My daughter (5) loves eating ocean prawns. Of late I have noticed that she develops red rashes on her hands and legs after eating them. The rashes itch but disappear after three-four days. Is it a skin allergy or should I consult a gastroenterologist?— Komalavalli Iyengar, Hyderabad

Your daughter may be suffering from urticaria which is caused by multiple factors including consumption of non-vegetarian food especially shelled seafood such as prawns. This skin ailment causes itching, giddiness, vomiting and abdominal pain. Visit a dermatologist immediately for diagnosis and treatment. If during diagnosis consumption of prawns is found to be the cause, they have to be avoided for an indefinite time period.

My 12-year-old daughter has dark skin colouration around her neck. She has tried applying natural skin whiteners such as curd, lemon juice, etc but the discolouration has reduced only slightly. Please advise. — Mary John, Chennai

Based on the partial history provided by you, it seems your daughter is suffering from acanthosis nigricans/ pseudo acanthosis nigricans, which is triggered by hormonal imbalance, insulin resistant diabetes mellitus and obesity. Consult a dermatologist who will ascertain the cause of discolouration and prescribe safe and suitable skin-lightening agents.

(Dr. Sribiju is a consultant dermatologist with the Kerala Government Health Services)

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