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What Causes People To Grow White Streaks of Hair?

White streaks of hair are often seen in cartoons and fictional characters – for example, Rogue in X-Men, Lily from The Munsters and the Bride of Frankenstein. But what causes this condition in real life?

Poliosis and Piebaldism

The Bride Of Frankenstein Is Generally Depicted With A Streak of White HairAn online article recently explored the condition which causes these white stripes, which is called Poliosis. Poliosis causes a single tuft of white hair, which can appear anywhere on the body, not just on the scalp. People suffering from Poliosis do not have any pigment in the area affected, resulting in hair, and sometimes skin, that’s white.

There are a number of reasons why someone might develop Poliosis, including inflammation in the area, fungal infections and reactions to medication. Some people are genetically predisposed to Poliosis, for example those with the condition Piebaldism.

Piebaldism is caused by a gene mutation which leads to a lack of pigment-making structures in the hair. White streaks in those with Piebaldism often mimic those seen in films – a white streak that begins at the forehead and sweeps back, called a “forelock”. In many cases the surrounding skin, eyebrows and eyelashes are also affected, and are also pigment free and white.

White streaks following hair loss

Oscar Pistorius Displays Signs of Stress-Related Hair Loss During Murder Trial

Oscar Pistorius Displays White Streaks Likely Following Alopecia, During His Murder Trial

Another cause for distinctive white stripes in hair is regrowth following a hair loss condition called Alopecia Areata.

Alopecia is often caused by sudden shock or extreme stress, resulting in patches of hair falling out. It can be a temporary condition, and many people see their hair grow back after a period of time, either naturally or as a result of treatment for Alopecia Areata. In some cases the hair in the affected area will grow back white and very fine.

This isn’t unusual, and we’ve seen this happen with both Oscar Pistorius and Jemima Khan. In Jemima’s case, the hair has remained white, but after a period of time it is possible that hair will return to its normal colour. In the case of white streaks due to Alopecia, the patches are less likely to be at the front of the forehead and more likely to be patches on the top or sides of the scalp.

If you’re worried about patchy hair loss, arrange to speak to a hair loss specialist as soon as possible. They will be able to provide a diagnosis, expert advice and develop an appropriate hair loss treatment programme tailored to your specific condition and requirements.


The Belgravia Centre Hair Loss ClinicThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


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