Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

White/grey hair

  1. Jul 5, 2008 #1

    Defennder

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Is it really true that stress can turn hair white? I know of people (including myself) who are in their 20s, and yet already have strands of white hair, in some cases quite numerous. And if so, then approximately how does that occur and how long does it take to occur?

    Also, does this apply to animals as well? Or only humans?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2008 #2
    Stress can make all kinds of damages to your body. It can turn your hair grey or cause baldness altogether. But you would have to experience something extremely horrific, or accumulate the effects of stress over dozens of years.

    I'm in my early 20s and I'm getting patches of grey hair as well. My cousin who is 32 now also displayed same symptoms, and today his hair is literally snow white if he doesn't dye. Other family members had early grey hair too. So my condition must be genetic.
     
  4. Jul 5, 2008 #3

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Also, white/grey hair can turn back to it's natural color again, I have hair that does that all of the time.
     
  5. Jul 5, 2008 #4
    Grey hair grows when the pigment cells stop producing color. Maybe that has to do with some chemical deficiency.
     
  6. Jul 6, 2008 #5

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Normal aging results in fewer pigment producing cells. As these cells decrease grey hair beomes more common. Grey hair may rarely appear as a result of dietary problems - for example copper is required in the synthesis of hair pigment - melanin. The copper-containing enzyme tyrosinase is required for this synthesis.

    There are genes for traits like white forelock, that express themselves as a patch of white hair. These appear at an early age.

    There a lots of ways to have white/grey hair appear.
     
  7. Jul 6, 2008 #6
    Interesting, I've always believed this was genetic too and was under the assumption (based on my family) that it was an X chromosome thing. The females of my family on my mother's side all seem to go grey in their 20's. It happened to my grandmother and her sister, my mother and her sister and both of my sisters....yet doesn't seem to effect the males. I still only have a few strands of grey into my mid-forties.
     
  8. Jul 6, 2008 #7

    Defennder

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    So the most probable explanation for a young adult to have white hair is genetic predisposition? And I never saw white hair which turned black again probably because it's hard to keep track of individual white strands. More importantly, how do you know it's not because the white/grey hair which fell off?
     
  9. Jul 6, 2008 #8
    Generally, with regard to the changing of hair color with aging, grey hair typically precedes the appearance of white hair, as memory serves. But you will occasionally find people with white hair at an early age due to genetics (and not dye). I think the only way you'll ever find a lot of young people with white hair is at an anime convention, and it's not at all genetic..... :biggrin:

    I've also noticed multiple hair colors in my beard (when I grow it out). It's mostly gotten darker as I've gotten older, but if you look carefully you'll see the occasional blonde, red, and silvery-white hair scattered throughout but mostly masked by the sea of brown hairs.
     
  10. Jul 6, 2008 #9

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Because I have hair that is white then suddenly turns dark on the lower portion going all the way down to the scalp.
     
  11. Jul 7, 2008 #10

    Defennder

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    What makes them turn white and then black again?
     
  12. Jul 14, 2008 #11

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Miss Clairol. :biggrin:
     
  13. Jul 14, 2008 #12
    I have a hypothesis on what makes them turn white.....its called insufficient UV exposure of the scalp.

    I have a hypothesis on what makes them turn black again.....its called sufficient UV exposure of the scalp.

    Discuss....
     
  14. Jul 16, 2008 #13
    Evo - You are describing the transition from the dyed part back to natural... <ducks>
     
  15. Jul 16, 2008 #14

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No the hairs were growing white, maybe 4 inches, then suddenly reverted back to their natural dark color, another 4-5 inches. I had read that it wasn't possible, but it happens to my hair quite often. Next time I find one I guess I wil have to pluck it and have it framed. And these hairs aren't just on my head. Of course those hairs aren't quite as long.

    Speak of the devil, I just found a white hair that has started to turn dark again. It's pretty common.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2008
  16. Jul 16, 2008 #15

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    My hair does that too! It's white/grey near the scalp, but is light and dark brown further away. My hair used to be much darker.

    My beard is white/grey/black or salt & pepper. :biggrin:
     
  17. Jul 16, 2008 #16

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    My beard is crazy. All sorts of crazy reds and coppers amongst the mostly white. My head is still mostly dark though.
     
  18. Jul 16, 2008 #17

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No, my hair is dark starting at the scalp, so the new growth is dark and the older hair toward the end of the hair is white. Yours is the opposite.
     
  19. Jul 16, 2008 #18

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Yeah - I do tend to be contrarian. I guess I was reverse-engineered. :biggrin:

    My beard tends to be white on my cheeks and white/grey/back on my chin and below my nose (moustache).
     
  20. Oct 8, 2011 #19
    I did a search on the internet and found this thread. My hair has been turning grey since my last year in high school. I have been dying my hair about 4-5years now but stopped during my pregnancies (2). I have been plucking out the hairs instead and while doing so recently, I noticed one of the hairs pulled out was dark at the root. Probably about 3-4cm, but definitely dark brown where as the rest of the strand was grey and a coppery brown shade. My hair doesnt stay dark brown when dyed, the colour washes out eventually even though I use permanent hair dye. I have been worried it is the sign of major health problems :( It was not a once off as I have found several more strands since, hence my looking for answers. I do not get much sun as I am somewhat anti-social and dislike leaving my home, even to go outside. My sister calls me a hermit. I have found other people who have had the same experience with the grey to dark hairs and just wish I knew what it was all about...and how to perpetuate the phenomenon as I truly dislike being noticeably grey at 31. Any more info or ideas well received and appreciated :)
     
  21. Oct 8, 2011 #20

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Have you taken it up with your GP? A doctor will be able to provide specific health advice way better than we can.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: White/grey hair
  1. Hair questions (Replies: 6)

  2. Hair growth. (Replies: 2)

  3. White/Grey Hair: Twist (Replies: 5)

Loading...