Is Grey Hair Caused by Stress?

Ever wondered why most American presidents have grey hair?

Knowing that their job is pretty much the most stressful one in the world, it is not unusual for people to believe that stress is responsible for the greying of their hair.

grey hair

While it’s very easy to blame stress as the culprit, a number of experts think that stress doesn’t turn  your hair grey.

According to Philip Kingsley Clinic trichologist Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, stress is more likely to bring hair loss and increase in shedding rather than turning your hair grey or white. Phillips emphasized that the appearance of grey is largely affected by genetics and cell chemistries.

“The majority of gray hair is genetic, but if the person is predisposed to gray hair, stress will make it appear sooner,” said Sandra Gilman, a trichologist at The Elan Center for Trichology.

Stressful events such as head trauma, surgery, nutritional deficiencies and any other stress perceived by the body as a burden may result to premature depigmentation among individuals who have a predisposition to grey hair.

Dr. Tyler Cymet of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine explained that stress creates systemic inflammation that can switch off pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. Such phenomenon has been observed among young people suffering from autoimmune disease with patches of grey or white hair.

Depending on your DNA, your hair will naturally start turning grey sometime in your 30s or 40s, but if you’re always stressed, it can speed up your hair’s color transformation.

The Effects of Stress on Hair

Stress has various devastating effects on our our body particularly on our overall hair health.

Common effects of stress include hair loss, hair thinning as well as overall lack of luster and shine. Types of hair loss associated with high stress levels are Trichotillomania or hair pulling, Alopecia areata and Telogen effluvium.

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