Does Stress Play A Role In Hair Turning Gray?

Image: Ty Alexander/Gorgeous in Grey

by Mary Wolff
When you spot that first gray hair, it can be an upsetting experience for most people. This sign of aging can’t be ignored, and it often leads to panic about what’s to come. Some people worry they will just wake up one day with a head full of gray hair seemingly overnight. Other people worry that their constant worrying will lead to more gray hairs. So, does stress play a role in hair turning gray? Let’s take a closer look at this concept.

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Can you go gray overnight?

There is an old wives tale that you can go gray in a relatively short span. This wouldn’t happen overnight since the way gray hair happens is due to a pigment loss in the follicle and strand. This process doesn’t happen immediately since hair must first go through the usual growth cycle before turning white or gray. In other words, hairs that already exist on your head lose pigment naturally and the natural hair growth process replaces the melanin without you noticing, but as you age, it becomes a slower process to create the same levels of melanin needed, so you will start to see some gray hairs. The process of hair turning gray usually goes through the hair growth cycle which can last up to three years, so the idea of going gray seemingly overnight is a myth.

Does stress play a role in hair turning gray?  

The idea that stress relates to gray hair is a long-standing notion. However, there is little truth to this concept. While stress hormones are a possible culprit in blocking the hormones needed for the production of melanin in some individuals, there is little research to confirm it for sure. In fact, you can blame genetics more for your gray hair than your rising stress levels.  According to Angela Lamb, M.D., a dermatologist at The Mount Sinai Hospital, ""Genetics play the largest role in when you will start going gray,"" says Lamb. It is also important to note that the majority of people will go gray at some point in their later life, but that time frame varies from person to person based on genetics.

Source: Self & The Conversation

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