->''"They used to call me 'Red', but three years of malnutrition will do a number on your hair color."''
-->-- '''Ian Starshine''', ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick''

It's a widespread belief[[note]]there is no clear [[https://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fact-or-fiction-stress-causes-gray-hair scientific evidence on this]][[/note]] that stress causes hair to turn gray -- just ask your grandmother. Stress, however, comes in many forms, and some are more effective than others at turning hair white.

One of the most effective ways to turn a character's hair completely white would be the stress of [[SoapOperaDisease prolonged illness]]. There may be some TruthInTelevision to this, but typically it's taken to extremes. In some cases, this trope is used to [[JustifiedTrope justify]] the white-hair part of WhiteHairBlackHeart if he happens to also be an [[IllGirl ill guy]].

Note that this trope also applies to people whose hair has turned white due to prolonged stresses similar to diseases, such as being a prisoner of war. If a character's hair suddenly changes color forever due to supernatural causes, it's LockedIntoStrangeness. If this is a direct (often temporary) effect of supernatural influence, it's PowerDyesYourHair. Also has no relation ([[{{Squick}} usually]]) to BrainBleach.

Also note that in RealLife hair already grown can't turn white (unless you bleach it artificially). Grown hair consists of dead cells, which can't change their color. But don't expect fiction to care.

Subtrope of PrematurelyGreyHaired.
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Toki of ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'' fame is shown to have black hair in pre-war flashbacks and indeed, his hair turned white due to the same radiation poisoning that is slowly killing him.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': Captain Jushirou Ukitake was diagnosed with a very serious lung condition (heavily implied to be tuberculosis) as a child and over the span of three days, the shock and stress of this diagnosis turned his hair white.
* Half of Dr. Manga/BlackJack's hair started coming in white after a land mine blasted his head apart when he was a child.
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'', Hody Jones and his crew had their hair turn white after overdosing on energy steroids, giving them a large power boost, but shortening their lifespans.
* In ''Literature/HalfPrince'', [[spoiler: Long Dian's]] hair has turned white, apparently due to his life-threatening disease. [[spoiler: He regains black hair when he gets a synthetic body.]]
* This happens to in ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'' Part 4 to Yukako Yamagishi when she uses her [[FightingSpirit Stand]] [[PrehensileHair Love Deluxe]] too much or if she takes too much damage.
* From ''Manga/YourLieInApril'', though not really turned into white, [[spoiler:Kaori's]] hair color become ''much'' lighter shade of blonde after she was hospitalized in episode 13. In fact her skin and eyes are paler as well.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', this happens to [[spoiler: Nagato]] when he [[spoiler: uses the Outer Path - Samsara of Heavenly Life Technique to bring BackFromTheDead everyone he killed when he invaded Konoha]]: the strain causes his hair to go white before [[RedemptionEqualsDeath he dies]]. [[spoiler: Kabuto later revives him with Impure World Reincarnation, and Nagato's hair is still white, that is until he absorbs some of Killer B's chakra, causing his hair to turn red again.]]
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[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The title character of ''ComicBook/{{XIII}}'' has a grey streak on his left temple where a bullet scratched him pre-amnesia.
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[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* This happens to Johnathan Harker in ''Film/BramStokersDracula'' as his hair turns grey when he returns to London and then white as he aids in fighting the count.
* The villain of the ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'' franchise [[spoiler:for the first three films]] has white hair at a relatively young age (canonically in his mid-forties during ''Film/SawIII'') due to being terminally ill with cancer.
* The vampiric disease in ''Film/TheOmegaMan'' turns people's hair white instantly (as we see when [[spoiler: Lisa]] gets infected). And curing it turns their hair back to a normal color instantly. Somewhere a Virologist Is Crying.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles''
** We see that [[FairyGodmother Lea]] has white streaks in her hair after prolonged imprisonment by the Winter Queen in order to "cure" her insanity/ambition.
** Justine's hair turned white after an intense feeding session with Thomas nearly killed her. She recovered much of her physical health in the years after, but her hair has remained white.
* ''[[Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse]]'' gives Annabeth and Percy cute little matching gray streaks from the stress of ''holding up the sky.'' Though oddly enough, they're never brought up again afterwards. They're brought up in ''Mark of Athena'' (''Literature/TheHeroesOfOlympus'') and it's said they disappeared after some time.
* In Creator/DeanKoontz's ''Dragon Tears'', Harry Lyon's former partner Ricky Esteban had to retire from the police force on medical grounds after being gut-shot, subsequently losing a big chunk of his digestive system. His hair went white and he seems prematurely aged in other ways, not surprisingly.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''
** Lancel Lannister's near-mortal wound and long recovery are said to have changed his fine blond hair to a brittle white mess.
** In ''A Dance with Dragons'', [[spoiler:Theon's hair turns white as a result of the malnutrition and torture he suffers from [[BastardBastard Ramsay.]]]]
%% ZCE: * OlderThanRadio: Roderick Usher in Creator/EdgarAllanPoe's story "Literature/TheFallOfTheHouseOfUsher".
* In Bram Stoker's ''Literature/{{Dracula}}'', Jonathan's hair begins to go grey after his imprisonment at the Count's castle. It's believed by some to be another way in which he [[NotSoDifferent grows to mirror Dracula himself]], similar to his personality change and growing fixation on his weapons.
** Of course, this gets even more patently ridiculous later on: after Mina explains all the deprivations the Count has been secretly putting her through and the fact that he's setting her up to become another vampire thrall, Jonathan's hair is ''explicitly'' stated as going stark white right then and there, [[ArtisticLicenseBiology grown hair and all]].
* ''Literature/LesMiserables'': Fantine's hair turns prematurely white after she sells most of it to provide money for her daughter and then contracts tuberculosis.
* Jem in ''Literature/TheInfernalDevices'' series. Turns out it's because [[spoiler:of a demonic hallucinogenic drug originally used to torture him as a child.]] Same goes for his eyes.
* ''Franchise/TheWitcher'': The strain of the [[TheSpartanWay often lethal]] Trial of Grass left young Geralt with white hair and unnaturally pale skin.
* Kit Smith's hair is noted as prematurely grey (he's only around thirty when he is introduced in ''[[Literature/AuntDimity Aunt Dimity's Christmas]]''); he spent years living as a vagrant and nearly died of a combination of hypothermia and pneumonia.
* The mercenary hero of the 1980s Gold Eagle HeroesRUs series ''Soldiers of Barrabas'' had his hair turn white after a head injury in the Vietnam War. This gives him a startling appearance that's often lampshaded.
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Happens all the time in ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' whenever someone becomes a victim of Wraith feeding. There are a few occasions where it is reversed by the Wraith returning the nutrients it stole, but those are rare special occasions.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* Lau Chan from ''VideoGame/VirtuaFighter'', after having black hair most of the series, goes white and visibly ages as his IncurableCoughOfDeath gets worse by the fifth game.
* This is one of the fan theories regarding Fenris's silvery hair in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII''; he canonically underwent an agonizing experiment that wiped his memory.
* In ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil5'' Jill's hair turns platinum blonde, almost white, after being experimented on by Wesker.
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[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'', [[spoiler:Godot]]'s hair turned white after he fell into a coma after being poisoned.
* In ''VisualNovel/SuperDanganRonpa2'', Nagito Komaeda's hair is white, and it's implied that this is due to [[spoiler:the illnesses he's had as a result of his constant good and bad luck]].
* In ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'', [[spoiler:Tooya Hachijō (aka Battler Ushiromiya)]]'s hair apparently turned white after they nearly drowned and had a traffic accident. This also results in a close resemblance to Kinzo Ushiromiya, the family patriarch, who also had white hair in his youth.
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[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', Ian Starshine's red hair turned white after three years of malnutrition in the Empire of Blood's jails.
* Kili of ''Webcomic/TheDragonDoctors'' has white hair thanks to a shock caused by the emergence of her hypersensitive spirit sight in childhood.
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[[folder:Real Life]]
* TruthInTelevision, to some degree. People suffering from severe and sustained malnutrition, such as some prisoners of war, can have their hair turn ''blond'' over time. This has even happened to an elderly man held prisoner by guerillas, whose hair turned blond from its previous grey. However, it turned back once he was rescued and back on a proper diet.
* While not always resulting in lighter hair, patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy sometimes find that their hair grows back a completely different color or texture.
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