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Marie Antoinette Syndrome

Marie Antoinette Syndrome


Marie Antoinette syndrome refers to a scenario where a person’s hair turns white (canities).

The title of the condition stems from folklore concerning the French queen Marie Antoinette, whose hair supposedly turned white before her execution in 1793.

Graying of this hair is organic with age. As you grow old, you might start to get rid of the melanin pigments which are responsible for your hair color.

However, this problem is not age-related. It is associated with a form of alopecia areata a type of sudden hair loss.

(It’s also important to note that, whether or not the tales are accurate, Marie Antoinette was only 38 years old at the time of her death).

While it’s possible for your hair to turn white in a relatively short quantity of time, that isn’t likely to happen within moments, as is indicated by supposed historic accounts.

Find out more about the study and causes of Marie Antoinette syndrome, and if you need to see your doctor.


Research doesn’t support the theory of abrupt hair whiteness. Still, tales of these incidents from the background are still run rampant.

Besides the notorious Marie Antoinette, other renowned figures in history have also allegedly experienced sudden changes in their own hair color.

1 noteworthy example is Thomas More, who was stated to have undergone a sudden whitening of his hair prior to his execution in 1535.

A report published in the Archives of Dermatology additionally notes witness reports of bombing survivors from World War II experiencing sudden bleaching of the hair.

Sudden hair color changes have additionally been noted in literature and science fiction, normally with psychological undertones.

Nevertheless, as Dr. Murray Feingold writes in Metro West Daily News, no research so far indicates that you can lose your hair color during the night.

Really, one article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine argues that historical accounts of black hair were likely associated with alopecia areata or into the washing out of temporary hair dye.

Reasons and Causes for similar phenomena:

Such conditions alter the way your body responds to healthy cells in the body, inadvertently attacking them.

In the event of Marie Antoinette syndrome-like symptoms, your body would stop regular baldness.

Because of this, though your hair would continue to grow, it would be grey or white in color.

There are other possible causes of premature graying or whitening of the hair that may be mistaken for this particular syndrome.

Consider the following conditions:

Alopecia areata:

This is one of the most notable causes of pattern hair loss. The indicators of alopecia areata are thought to be caused by underlying inflammation.

This causes the hair follicles to stop new hair growth. Subsequently, existing hair can also fall out.

If you already have some grey or white hairs, then the bald patches from this state may make such pigment losses more apparent.

This can also make the impression that you’ve got new pigment loss when actually it is now just more prominent.

With treatment, new hair growth might help mask gray hairs, but it can not necessarily prevent your hair from slowly turning grey.


If you have a family history of prematurely graying hair, chances are that you might be at risk.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s also a gene called IRF4 that could play a role.

A genetic predisposition to graying hair can make it hard to reverse hair color changes.

Hormonal changes:

These include thyroid disease, menopause, and drops in testosterone levels.

Your doctor can prescribe medications that could help even out your hormone levels and possibly stop additional premature graying.

Obviously darker hair:

The two people of natural light and dark hair colors are prone to graying.

But if you have dark hair, then any sort of hair whitening appears more noticeable.

Such instances are not reversible but might be managed using all-over hair coloring, as well as touch-up kits.

According to the Nemours Foundation, it may take over a decade to get all hairs to turn grey, so this is not a sudden event. A lack of vitamin B-12 is especially to blame.

You may help reverse nutrition-related graying by obtaining enough of the nutrient(s) you’re lacking.

A blood test can help confirm such deficiencies. It’s also important to work with your doctor and perhaps a registered dietitian.


This autoimmune disease causes pigment losses in the skin, in which you may have noticed white patches.

Such effects can extend to your own hair pigment, making your hair turn gray, also.

Vitiligo is difficult to treat, particularly in children. One of the options is corticosteroids, operation, and light treatment.

Once treatment stops the depigmentation process, you may notice fewer grey hairs over time.

Can Stress make this happen?

Marie Antoinette syndrome has been portrayed as a being due to sudden stress.

In the instances of Marie Antoinette and Thomas More, their hair color changed in prison during their last days.

But, the underlying cause of white hair is much more complicated than a single occasion.

In reality, your hair color changes are likely related to a different underlying cause.

Stress itself does not cause sudden baldness. Over time, chronic stress may lead to premature gray hairs, however. You could also experience hair loss from acute anxiety.

When to see a doctor:

Graying hair isn’t necessarily a health issue. If you notice premature grays, you can mention them to your doctor at your next physical.

But you might want to make an appointment if you are also experiencing other symptoms, such as hair loss, bald spots, and migraines.

The Bottom Line:

Premature grey or white hair is surely a cause for investigation.

Though hair can’t turn white overnight, tales of Marie Antoinette’s hair waxing before her passing and also other similar stories continue to endure.

Rather than focus on those historical tales, it is important to concentrate on what medical specialists now understand about graying hair and what you could do about it.

Ask your friends and loved ones for support.

If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, consider joining a support group or seeking counseling. Believe in your ability to take control of the pain…

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Q: What is marie antoinette syndrome?

A: Marie Antoinette syndrome designates the condition in which scalp hair suddenly turns white. The title alludes to the miserable Queen Marie Antoinette of France (1755-1793), whose hair allegedly turned white the night before her final walk to the guillotine during the French Revolution.

Q: How do you get Marie Antoinette syndrome?

A: Marie Antoinette syndrome is due to elevated levels of psychological stress, which, in turn, triggers less pigmentation of the hair. These form the basis of most uses of the thought in literary functions.

Q: Can a person’s hair turn white from shock?

A: The situation of hairs turning white from shock or stress persists in literature, and even many of medical journals.
“But you can not eliminate pigment in your hair. Once it leaves your scalp, it is non-living; it’s dead.”

Q: Can your hair suddenly turn white?

A: It’s in fact medically impossible; there’s not any mechanism where hair can organically reverse white, either suddenly or overnight. … Gray hair may seem to turn white when the colored hair shafts fell out for some reason (by way of instance, the medical disease alopecia), leaving the white hairs behind.

Q: Is GREY hair dead hair?

A: When the keratinocytes undergo their scheduled death, they retain the melanin. Thus, the pigment that is visible in the hair and in skin lies in these lifeless keratinocyte bodies. … Gray hair, then, is hair with less melanin, and white hair has no melanin at all.

Q: Does Poliosis go away?

A: There’s not any way to permanently change the color of hair affected by poliosis. Nonetheless, if you want to produce your poliosis less visible, it is relatively straightforward and cheap to dye hair that’s been lightened by poliosis. You can use a house kit or visit a hair salon to get it done.

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