Marie Antoinette syndrome: Get An Overview of It

hair color genetics

If one gets grey or white hair gradually then one can understand that it is a natural process and happens with everyone but getting white hair all of a sudden is a matter of surprise and weirdness for not only the doctors but for every human being. 

Getting white hair all of a sudden is referred to as Marie Antoinette syndrome. If your hair is turning white quickly then it doesn’t mean that you are facing this syndrome but it is a matter of worry so you should contact a doctor immediately.

Today, we will be getting an overview of the Marie Antoinette syndrome, its symptoms, causes, and diagnosis. We will also gather information about the scenarios of hair turning white or grey and what to do in such cases so keep reading the complete post. 

How the name Marie Antoinette Syndrome came and what is it?

hair color genetics


The name comes from folklore about the French queen Marie Antoinette. The story goes like this way that her hair turned white the night before she was going to be executed in 1793. The folk says that her hair turned white as she was very stressed. And yes, she was not old, her age was only 38 years so if folk is true then how come someone’s hair turn white all of a sudden and that too at a young age. 

This story is there for so long that when people refer to such a problem then they call it “Marie Antoinette syndrome.” 

But this is not the earliest account, one-story dates back even earlier back to 83 AD. There was a scholar aged 17 years who worked so hard that his hair turned white all of a sudden. 

What are the symptoms?

hair color genetics


Though there are only a few incidents that are known to us about this problem and that also not confirmed, we can still check out the symptoms that are popular in it. 

This syndrome is having the peculiar symptom of getting white hair all of a sudden on the head or some other part of the body. It results in permanent whitening of hair. 

It is reported to appear in people of all ages and not just the elder ones. Even the younger ones get the white hair all of a sudden. The gradual process of the hair turning grey or white totally fails here. 

One literature review of the rapid whitening of hair provided similar stories where this happened due to life-threatening events like accidents, house fires, traumatic events, death of a loved one, etc. 

Most of the doctors consider the story and this syndrome as a myth. And you also will be considering it as a myth, right? 

This condition is referred to as canities subita (Latin for “sudden gray hair”) in the case when medical professionals encounter it in modern times. 


hair color genetics


The reason for our hair turning white is the loss of melanin pigments. Melanin pigments are responsible for the hair color and when the age grows, the body starts producing less melanin and that’s where the hair starts turning white. 

The cells producing melanin also produce hydrogen peroxide and that is responsible for hair bleaching. There is one enzyme called catalase that breaks down hydrogen peroxide and prevents it from affecting the hair strands. But, with increasing age, the body starts producing less catalase so it is also the reason for the white hair.

Researchers have also found out that stress is also the reason for the hair turning white. Through a couple of studies, they have found that hair starts turning white through stress.

Vitiligo and alopecia areata are problems linked with this syndrome. In Vitiligo, skin color changes to white as the cells that are responsible for skin color no longer function or die.

Alopecia areata is a disease in which hair starts shedding from the head, it starts by forming small areas (coin-like shapes) in which there is no hair and gradually most of the hair falls down. 

In the case of a patient, the hair of only one leg turned white. The patient was absolutely alright and having no health problem or any kind of stress. He was not facing any kind of pain or also not facing the problem of hair loss but still, this happened. It was a matter of surprise for the doctors as well, it was supposed to be the starting phase of Vitiligo for that patient may be. 

How does the diagnosis take place?

hair color genetics


The doctor will ask the patient surrounding things for the problem like in how many days the hair turned white? Which shampoo, conditioner, hair oil, hair dye, or any other hair product you used over the past couple of months? Are you suffering from any health-related problems or any mental stress going on currently? The doctor will inspect the situation and then may ask the patient to get the following tests conducted. 

  • Hormone and thyroid levels 
  • Blood counts, electrolytes, and chemistry 
  • Inflammatory or other specific markers for autoimmune diseases

These tests won’t tell how the hair turned white but will tell the doctor enough about the overall health of the patient. There might be a possibility to refer to a Dermatologist and allergist if needed. 

Also Read: 7 Hair Care Mistakes To Avoid For Healthy Hair


hair color genetics


Now, if your hair is turning white at an early age then it is obvious that you will be worried and looking for the possible treatment to cure it. But you should note one point that human hair color starts turning white normally in the twenties and thirties. 

The age and quantity of arrival of white hair vary from one person to another person. Many factors lead to white hair like a biological factor, smoking habits, and more. 

So, if you are getting white hair in your twenties or thirties then it is a normal process and nothing to worry about. Yes, but you need to check the quantity of white hair that you are getting. If the count is few then it is ok but if there are too many white hairs then you should get it checked by a medical professional.

If there are signs of alopecia areata then also you should get it checked by a doctor. Steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs are the common approaches that doctors suggest the patients take if they are diagnosed with alopecia areata. 

If you are having a sudden hair fall problem and that too in a big number then you should consult a good doctor immediately before the situation worsens. 

Cosmetic products can be used to manage the look of the hair. You can use dye to color your hair and that is fine to do and there is no risk in doing that. Yes, but get the hair dye of a branded company.  

Take proper care of the hair and consult a good doctor as and when required to let them remain shiny and black as ever.

Get more hair care tips and know about more hair treatment from Healthclubfinder.