Marie Antoinette Syndrome: Causes, Hair Turn White Overnight?

Marie Antoinette syndromeMarie Antoinette Syndrome

You might be wondering turning hair into grey colour due to stress as Marie Antoinette syndrome sounds like a fairy-tail. How can you get find your hair greyish overnight without any apparent reason?

Well, this is the valid question to come up with. Before going in-depth discussion, a brief history portion will make sense to understand where did it catch limelight from?

History (Where It Gets Its Name)

The name Marie Antoinette depicts the ill-fated queen of France (1755-1793). The queen’s hair turned greyish before sentencing to death. She was about 38 years at that time. This incident got the public’s attention during the French revolution as it had happened ever before, or people witnessed it never. After popularizing this rare incident, it has been referred to as ‘Marie Antoinette syndrome.’

Likewise, Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) found his hair white in a short time before execution. History holds records of some other incident happening in the past, which intensified its (syndrome) occurring.

In the report of Archives of Dermatology, sudden changes in hair to white colour have also been observed in the WW2 survivors. Let’s discuss what actually Marie Antoinette Syndrome is!

What Is Marie Antoinette Syndrome?

The sudden turning of hair into white or grey colour refers to the Marie Antoinette Syndrome. Its name comes from French queen “Marie Antoinette” as we have already discussed.

With age, hair-colour becomes greyish, which is normal. Pigments are responsible for hair-colour that we start losing with time.

It doesn’t have any relation with age, but a sudden type of hair-loss (including change in hair-colour) occur alopecia areata.

Although it doesn’t seem like possible turning hair white within a short time, history witnessed it. In this article, you’ll get to know

  • What research suggests?
  • What causes to make it possible?
  • Can stress bring it on?
  • When to consult a doctor?

What Does Research Suggest?

As of now, research doesn’t present any concrete proofs supporting Marie Antoinette syndrome. Besides many stories, there have also been antagonists there to oppose this story like a ghost story.

Many researchers came forward to reach a possible outcome, yet most of them have agreed, calling it a myth since science provides no evidence in its favour. Alopecia Areata is linked with Marie Antoinette syndrome as per the article published in the journal of the royal society of the medicine.

The controversy is always there because some presume it as restricted access to hair dye and other cosmetics. While some refer this condition to Canities Subita.

Recent research has shown that the cell that makes melanin (a compound maintains hair-colour) also causes hydrogen peroxide. It is a chemical compound that helps in lightening the hair.

As we grow older, there’re more likely chances of getting hydrogen peroxide in abundance results shortage of melanin. This can cause turning whitish hair over-night. Before delving into more study, let’s find out the possible causes of Marie Antoinette Syndrome.

Causes Of Marie Antoinette Syndrome

Alopecia Areata

This is the most known reason for premature greying or whitening of the hair. Underlying inflammation helping rising symptoms of alopecia areata. A man having grey or white hair already makes it possible to create patches of Alopecia Areata. As a result, those pigments seem quite prominent.

Hormone Changes

Hormonal variations pave the way to baldness or sometimes turning hair-colour whitish. It may get you variety of side-effects along with hair-loss. Testosterone levels or disease of thyroid consist of hormonal changings. To balance the hormone level, a prescription from the practitioner may help out.

Nutrition Deficiency

Some consider it as the reason for sudden turning of hair into white colour. Nutritional deficiencies, such as lack of vitamin B-12, brings this syndrome. Using a sufficient amount of nutrition into a diet helps to reduce this danger. Blood test confirms these deficiencies.

Natural Dark Hair

There is a considerable risk of turning hair whitish in those who have naturally dark hair. Hair-coloring finds suitable to get rid of these risks. This can take a decade for greying hair due to naturally darker hair, so it may not lead to sudden change. (Nemours Foundation)


Encountering with genes to have premature greying from your ancestors, you’re at risk of having this issue due to gene transfer. Timely treatment helps you a lot, avoiding premature whitening of hair.


It is a disorder bringing you with skin losing pigmentation, which creates patches. You may notice a quite reduction in grey or white hair after depigmentation due to various treatments, i.e. surgery, light therapy, and corticosteroids.

Can Stress Causes Marie Antoinette Syndrome?

Looking back to Marie Antoinette and Thomas’s incidents, they have been portrayed as being caused by shear stress. It had turned down the mechanism of hormonal behaviour fetching them the greying hair over-night.

Stress cannot even make possible it can even happen so early that may turn your hair whitish. Though, it takes much time to convert hair greyish. So, it doesn’t fit for the exact reason of Marie Antoinette.

However, there may be an underlying more complex cause triggering it over-night. What needs to be done is to find out the more likely reason, which cannot be found yet.

When To Visit A Doctor?

Consulting a practitioner is quite helpful to get rid of this matter. With time, getting greyish hair is expected, but the premature growth or changing may leave you in the lurch. Noticing any related symptoms is an alarm to get an appointment to your physician at this time of need. Rashes, hair loss, and patches might be possible symptoms.


Premature growth or turning of hair into grey colour is a matter of concern. History sheds light on the alleged incidents of Marie Antoinette and Thomas more.

It comes up as disease now. There might be several causes behind it, such as gene transfer, vitiligo, natural darker hair, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes, and Alopecia Areata.

Seeking help from the best doctor makes you feel comfortable finding contentment and peace.


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