Why do I sometimes find hair that is black at root but white at the tip?
May 20, 2009 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Occasionally, I will find one or two hairs that are white at the tip but black (my normal hair color) at the root/base - the bottom 2-3cm of hair will be black, the top will be white. What's going on here? I've not noticed this happen anywhere on my body but ... down there.

I'm a 22 yr old female. Both my parents started finding a few white hairs in their early thirties, but my mother at least had never found hair that was white at the tip but black at the bottom. What's going on here?

The hairs are never clustered together, and I only ever find just one. I'm a little freaked out.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This happens to me too occasionally though for me the mix is brown (my normal color) and blonde. I'm about twice your age and haven't noticed any correspondence with head hair color, if that's any consolation.
posted by jessamyn at 3:18 PM on May 20, 2009

Sun bleaching?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:28 PM on May 20, 2009

Your melanin levels are changing, when there's no melanin you get gray hair, if the melanin production on that follicle increases it goes back to regular color. or at least that's how I read it...
posted by goml at 3:45 PM on May 20, 2009

I get this too and have always wondered the same thing. I'm a 28 year old female and I noticed my white strands of hair turning back to brown in my early twenties. I first noticed the white hairs in early highschool.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:57 PM on May 20, 2009

My beard is one of those brown/blond/red/gray ones, and goml's reading jibes with my experience.
posted by box at 4:03 PM on May 20, 2009

There is a doctor, Steven Harris, who used to post a lot of good stuff to various newsgroups. There is an archive that contains a lot of his earlier postings over at yarchive.net, and I remembered reading something over there that probably answers this exact question.

The article I'm talking about can be found on the page about hair graying, and in that he says that this is one way the normal hair graying process manifests itself for some people.
posted by FishBike at 4:04 PM on May 20, 2009

That's normal for any part of the body, really. I don't have the explanation for it but I wanted to say it's nothing to freak out about.
posted by Nattie at 4:14 PM on May 20, 2009

It could be a dietary issue:

Para-Aminobenzoic Acid

(PABA) as this vitamin is commonly known is one of the lesser known members of the B complex family, has been shown to be an anti-grey hair vitamin. In tests in black animals that were feed with a diet deficient of PABA, they developed grey hair, when the animals were reintroduced to the vitamin, normal hair colour was restored

Research on humans with grey hair being given 200mg of PABA after each meal produced results that showed that a study of the hair afterwards resulted in a seventy per cent result of the hair returning to its original colour. Other research claims that PABA combined with folic acid also helps restore hair to its original colour.

Deficiency of PABA, Biotin, Folic Acid and Pantothenic Acid appears to affect hair colour. Hair colour can normally be restored with a diet rich in the B vitamins and in the few cases where colour is not restored the hair will improve in quality and strength of growth.

PABA and the B vitamins are found in foods such as liver, kidney, whole grain and yeast. The richest source being liver.
posted by aquafortis at 4:31 PM on May 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have alopecia areata and know exactly what you're talking about. When a new hair grows in, it begins with a fine tapered tip that is sometimes white and as the growth continues, the hair shaft thickens and the color darkens. It may be happening in places other than your "down there" but the white portion is so fragile that it breaks off before you notice it.
posted by defreckled at 7:41 PM on May 20, 2009

I'm going to go out on a limb and say this has something to do with urine and/or vaginal fluids. (I am not a doctor, nor am I scientifically inclined).

I have dark hair, almost blackish hair in my netherregions. I similarly, occasionally, find hairs where the roots are blondish at their tip, but if I tweeze it out, is black below the skin. It only happens in my netherregions. I never thought anything of it, and I don't think you should either.

For some women, the pH balance of their vaginal fluids has a bleaching effect on panties (this VagainaPagina question confirms that I am not the only one this happens to!), so I always thought that it had the same effect on some tips of hairs. So it's a little bleachin' going on, is all (IMHO), nothing to worry about.

I don't think it has anything to do with you "going grey" - because the color line is always based on whether the hair is exposed, or not exposed (below the skin). I don't think it has much if anything to do with melanin, because of this.

The PABA vitamin issue that aquafortis mentioned is interesting, but I'm tempted to still say it still has something to do with vaginal fluids, and is totally natural.
posted by jalebi at 7:52 PM on May 20, 2009

I do NOT mean "...where the roots are blondish at their tip..." I mean hair. Not roots. Oops.
posted by jalebi at 7:53 PM on May 20, 2009

i dunno about the vaginal fluids/urine hypothesis. i get hairs this on occasion on my chin. for the record, i am 28, female, very fair, and don't get vaginal fluids or urine on the area in question.
posted by penchant at 10:07 AM on May 21, 2009

(uhh, "hairs *like* this." derr.)
posted by penchant at 10:09 AM on May 21, 2009

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