When I found my first grey hair, it appeared like a little weed - stuck straight up and appeared on the right top side of my hairline. I first had a mini panic attack and then I plucked it out immediately. When the next one came in near it, I did the same. And then the third, fourth....you get the idea. A few years later, I had a small bald patch. It was not a good look. So I let them grow in. I was in the midst of raising my first daughter and thought the grey hair wouldn't be that noticeable. I changed my part line to cover it up. That worked for a few more years, but soon I was starting to resemble the bride of Frankenstein. My grey hair was coming in in one concentrated area, not the sprinkling I was expecting. I googled it (as one naturally does with anything) and learned about Poliosis.
Poliosis occurs when a person is born with or develops a patch of white or grey hair. It can affect both children and adults. Remember Johnny Depp’s character in the movie “Sweeney Todd”? Singer Bonnie Raitt has it naturally.
The word for this condition comes from the Greek word “pilios,” which means “grey.” Melanin is the substance that gives hair its color. People with poliosis have a decreased level or complete lack of melanin in the roots of affected hairs, also called hair follicles.
Poliosis alone can’t seriously harm your health, but it can sometimes co-occur with serious conditions.
Some people say that psychological trauma, physical shock, or other stressful experiences cause poliosis to occur, sometimes overnight. However, some experts say these claims are untrue.
While the causes of poliosis aren’t completely understood, experts say the real causes of poliosis likely include:
- autoimmune disease
- damage to hair follicles
How is poliosis diagnosed?
The presence of a white or gray patch of hair is enough to diagnose the condition. It can be a sign of thyroid disorders, vitamin B-12 deficiency, and other serious conditions.