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Amurph's avatar

Is it really possible for someone's hair to turn white "overnight"?

Asked by Amurph (401points) January 13th, 2008
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

16 Answers

LanceVance's avatar

Yes, it is, actually.

During the WWII when Slovenia was occupated, there was some guerrilla resistance and a woman was captured and locked up in a cellar and she was told she would be shot the next morning. All the paranoia and fear caused her dark browned hair to turn completely gray.

PupnTaco's avatar

Jerry Garcia’s hair turned from black to grey while he was in a diabetic coma in the ‘80s.

soethe6's avatar

Um, yes it is. But only if you cover your pillow in wet white paint before you go to sleep. Sheesh.

itsnotmyfault1's avatar

Yes, its an old Irish myth involving the wail of the banshee
my english teacher, last name: O’Brien, says that his turned white overnight after he heard and saw a woman screaming and running away from the hospital, the night that his father died.

this exactly in line with the curse story.

other irish names are also affected. some stories involving the same curse have been collected into a book, but i don’t know the name of it.

Amurph's avatar

All of these are good answers, but let me be a little more specific. Have you, or has anyone you’ve known personally, had your hair turn gray or white either “overnight” or within a few days? Did you watch it happen? Or are you convinced of the story’s authenticity?

Vincentt's avatar

In fact, I’ve heard that it’s actually true, and the explanation of it would be as follows:
A person can already have many white hairs, and then suddenly because of some stressful or emotional situation a lot of hairs may fall out, where most of the hair that would be left would be the white hair.
It’s too long ago for me to remember the source though, so I can’t tell you how reliable it is.
Edit: No, I don’t know anyone this has happened to, most likely because a situation in which it might occur is unlikely to happen in a protected environment like ours.

itsnotmyfault1's avatar

my english teacher is pretty young for a head of pure white…
and he’s extremely respectable, and an amazing storyteller
i believed him when he told us that his hair turned pure white overnight.

of course i didn’t watch it, but i’m convinced enough that it happened

syz's avatar

I don’t see how the melanin in the hair follicle and hair shaft could possibly disappear without chemical assistence.

Perchik's avatar

From the research I’ve done online, it seems that it is physically impossible for your hair to change color that drastically. However, if you have hair that is greying along with dark hair, there is a symptom caused by stress that causes hair loss. Colored [non white/grey] hair falls out more easily, so a lot of darker hair can fall out at once.Thus creating the illusion that the hair color changed instantly overnight.

hossman's avatar

My understanding is that although all of a person’s hair will not CHANGE from other colors to white immediately, extreme shock or stress can cause a person’s hair to immediately start only growing in white, and for that person to lose the hair they already had, which would result in all white hair.

Spargett's avatar

@ LanceVance

Can we get a source? I feel really confident in the fact that “overnight” isn’t meant to be taken literally here.

Amurph's avatar

Overnight is not necessarily meant literally, although cited sources on that matter would be great! If we want to be SUPER literal – I’d say – is it possible to happen within a few hours to 3 days? I like the “all hair but white” falling out, it seems to make the most sense.
Thanks, everyone!

piyu's avatar

hey hiiee… is simply not possible to have white hair over night… may so happen that you fail to notice it in its initial stage when it starts to become gray or so…..and one fine day one it becomes completely white….well if you really wish to clarify all your myths related to hair to may simply visit the link

they have a separate section for the myths….hope that help you clear your doubt…..!!!

Leni's avatar

Hossman is right. In October 2008 I went through something extremely physically and emotionally traumatizing. Just today (which is why i googled this topic and found this thread) i was looking closely in the mirror, and noticed a bunch of only half white hairs. I have almost black hair, and don’t color it, so it’s very obvious. I had noticed the white hairs since October, but never noticed the clear and NOT gradual line where my black hair turned white. It’s bizzare, the top 3 inches closest to my head are stark white, and the rest of the hair is black. It’s only about 6 or 7 hairs, but it shows a clear point in time where the follical completely stopped producing melanin “overnight”. So, No the whole hair can’t turn white, but during a trauma, the cells can immediatly stop producing the color, so the REST of that hair will be white. My hair is proof.

lilapa's avatar

My grandmother’s hair turned completely white overnight when she was 21. No one would say why. She was 100% Irish. I hear there is some Irish gene that makes this possible.

lilapa's avatar

My own hair started turning white at age 25. It is still dark, mostly, My hair color turns off and on, in a single hair follicle. The color in a single hair shaft turns off and on. A single hair can be, starting from the root, 2” dark, 4” white. This has happened alot. Seems to me it is stress and meditation and nutrition related.

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