Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

HIGHLIGHTS

Open

Stressing the Gray

Myth Buster: Can Stress Cause Gray Hair?

The true relationship between stress and gray hair is explained.

Myth:  Worry and stress can turn your hair gray.

Fact:  No science supports a direct link between stress and gray hair, says Jerry Shapiro, M.D., professor of dermatology at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “When hair turns gray—and which hairs turn gray—is genetically programmed,” he says.

Existing hair does not turn gray. When melanocyte cells that produce hair color pigment are depleted­—a process controlled by genes—a gray hair will grow in when a regular hair falls out. That gray strand grows from the same hair follicle, where the cells are now simply producing less color.

As for stories of people who turned gray almost overnight, Shapiro says, such cases can be attributed to rare diseases. “One disease causes all your regular hair to fall out quickly, leaving only the gray,” he says. “So while it looks like the patient turned gray overnight, that isn’t what happened.”

Barbara Basler is a senior editor at AARP Bulletin Today.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Prescription medication spilling out of bottle

Members get a free Rx card from AARP® Prescription Discounts provided by Catamaran.

Walgreens Pharmacy

Members can earn exclusive points with Balance™ Rewards from Walgreens.

Caregiving walking

Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.

Being Social

Featured
Groups

Fat to Fit

Get tips, recipes and advice for reaching your personal weight loss goal! Join

Medicare & Insurance

Share health coverage information and experiences common to being age 50+. Join

Health Nuts

Share heart-smart recipes, fitness tips and stress relievers. Join