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Can being scared really turn hair white? © Shutterstock

Can being scared really turn hair white?

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Boo! A scare may be hair-raising but is there any scientific basis to a fright-induced a change in your 'do?

Asked by: Duncan Wherrett, Berwick-Upon-Tweed

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Hair follicles naturally produce bleaching hydrogen peroxide but this is normally mopped up by the enzyme catalase. As we age, catalase production slows and the hair bleaches itself white or grey. But you have to wait for the hair to grow from the root – once hair emerges from your scalp it is dead. Severe stress could theoretically cause the immune system to cause dark hairs to fall out, leaving just the white ones behind. Nonetheless, there are no scientifically documented cases of this happening after a fright.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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