Twin Peaks Usenet Archive

Subject: White hair
From: (Kathleen Hunt)
Date: 1990-10-10, 00:28

 robertj@Autodesk.COM (Young Rob Jellinghaus)
 Message-ID: <189@autodesk.UUCP> writes:

*Does anyone have the straight dope on hair turning white?  Is there a medical
*term for the phenomenon?  How does it actually happen?

I was waiting for this to come up!  Here's what I've heard.  For a long 
time this was thought to be an old wives' tale, the problem being that
hair is DEAD TISSUE.  How can dead hair be affected by stress?  Then
somebody noticed that in the only halfway verified cases of hair turning
white overnight, the victims in each case had salt-n-pepper hair before 
it happened.  That is, they had black hairs and white hairs, and the 
black hairs selectively fell out, leaving only the white hairs.  The
theory I've heard says that this might happen when someone is in the 
process of getting all-white hair anyway, such that all their newer
hairs are white, and the only black hairs left are old hairs.  If such
a person receives a shock, maybe the hair follicles are affected 
differently depending on how long they've been growing that hair, so
that the black-hair follicles go dormant and all the black hair falls
out.  Why follicles would react differently to stress, I don't know. 

Aren't you glad you asked?

P.S.  I just used "black" as an example -- coulda been any color...