Marie Antoinette syndrome: Cause, symptoms, and myths
These last days of his life have been used to give a name to a phenomenon is known as the Marie Antoinette syndrome, a capillary alteration that we will talk about throughout this text which may have its origin within the experimentation of highly stressful events.
What is the Marie Antoinette syndrome?
In spite of many’s opinions, It has little to do with the flavor of shoes, design, or life in the castle, yet alludes to an unexpected beginning hair sickness where the hair of the individual is thoroughly white in a brief timeframe.
However, the main characteristic of this alteration is not that the colored hair turns white, but that the person suffers a loss of colored hair, leaving only those unpigmented fibers. Thus, actually, it isn’t accurate that hair turns white, regardless of whether this special visualization happens.
Although popularly it has been called the Marie Antoinette syndrome, it is actually a condition known as alopecia areata for dark hair.
Alopecia areata may be a disease that causes hair loss in localized areas of the body. This syndrome doesn’t just influence the scalp or beard growth, yet these territories are the most influenced by this kind of alopecia.
It is considered a strange type of alopecia in which the condition maintains gray or unpigmented hair, causing only those hair of the usual color to fall. D
Despite the fact that the specific causes are not known, It is conjectured that a hereditary factor connected to the experience of times of high pressure might be the triggers of this uncommon illness.
The main consequence is that the person seems to have aged suddenly since the disease develops in a very short time.
Can you make your hair white overnight?
A legend has this syndrome that the hair of Queen Marie-Antoinette would have whitened entirely the night before her ascent on the scaffold, in 1793.
Today, It refers to a situation where all the hair turns white by one. stroke. It might as well have been called Thomas More Syndrome, since he too saw his hair suddenly turn white in the Tower of London the night before his execution, in 1535.
Since then, cases of rapid whitening of hair have been described, particularly during WWII, in people who survived bombings. What would be the cause and explanation of this syndrome?
Let us first remember where the pigmentation of the hair comes from. Its color comes from the grains of melanin contained in the cortex of the hair. Melanin is produced by the active melanocytes of the pigmentation unit, located in the bulb of the hair follicle, around the dermal papilla.
The melanocytes are in contact with the cells of the matrix – the keratinocytes – which, by multiplying, produce the hair. In contact with the melanocytes, the keratinocytes are loaded with melanin, and this is how the hair grows pigmented, from its root.
Unlike active melanocytes, dormant melanocytes do not produce melanin. This population no longer resides in the bulb but forms a reservoir of stem cells in the outer sheath of the hair follicle. However, at the end of each cycle, the follicle breaks down, the hair falls out, and the pigmentation unit is also destroyed.
When the follicle is reformed, the pigmentation unit regenerates itself, from the reservoir of stem melanocytes. This allows the regrowth of a pigmented hair in place of the previous one. The “choreography” of the melanocytes of each hair follicle ensures the permanence of colored hair. But then, why does the hair turn white?
Previously, it was believed that bleaching was associated with the cessation of synthesis or transfer of melanin. In fact, it is due to a gradual decrease in the number of melanocytes, both in the pigmentation unit and in the reservoir.
When the number of active melanocytes reaches a limit threshold, the quantity of synthesized melanin, transferred to the growing hair, is no longer sufficient for it to be pigmented: it is white.
All the hair is white when all the melanocytes in the pigmentation unit and the reservoir have disappeared. In addition, the absence of expression of the enzyme TRP-2 (tyrosinase-related protein-2)intensifies the disappearance of melanocytes.
Without this enzyme, follicular melanocytes become more sensitive to environmental attacks, in particular to oxidizing free radicals, and hair whitening accelerates.
How can hair whiten overnight?
Thus, the bleaching of the hair is progressive. But then, how can hair whiten overnight? This syndrome, called “sudden canities”, is today interpreted as an autoimmune reaction: the body’s immune system seems to have a sudden rejection reaction from the pigmentary system of the hair follicles.
If this attack occurs on salt and pepper hair, containing both pigmented hair and other already white hair, only the pigmented hair will be “rejected”, and therefore lost, while the white hair will be spared. “Overnight” bleaching is said to result from a selective rejection of pigmented hair.
The case of Marie Antoinette
The origin of the name is found in an old story that states that Marie Antoinette, the wife of the monarch Louis XVI was a victim of this syndrome during the course of the French Revolution.
The story goes that she experienced this ailment when she was anticipating her execution. According to legends, when she entered the Bastille prison her hair was completely dark and that days later, when she was released to execute her, her hair had turned completely white.
It is not difficult to imagine that throughout her stay in the Bastille prison, expecting to find herself at any moment in front of the guillotine, She would suffer from levels of anguish, fear, and anxiety so extremely high that they caused her to fall. hair related.
Although the emotional and psychological situation during which the person finds himself can exert an excellent influence on the looks of the syndrome, the reality is that the origin of the this disease lies in genetic factors. Thus, despite the belief that this alteration is triggered by stress, mental states do not seem to play the main role in its development.
At long last, and as an inquisitive reality, Marie Antoinette’s condition just alludes to cases that happen in ladies. When this appears in the male sex it is known as Thomas More syndrome, a writer of English origin also suffered from his disease while he was imprisoned within the Tower of London awaiting his execution.
What are the causes?
As mentioned above, the main causes of Marie Antoinette syndrome are organic, however, the experimentation of high levels of anxiety and stress favors the development of this syndrome.
In this manner, it is a condition with a multifactorial birthplace, which implies that there are a few conditions that can impact its appearance. One of them is that the genetic factor, in most cases you’ll find a case history of this syndrome.
On the opposite hand, it’s been found that alopecia is an autoimmune disorder. This means that it is the person’s body that causes the symptoms. The accumulation of a specific type of lymphocyte causes stagnation in hair growth and causes its subsequent loss.
However, although it’s not been possible to determine an immediate and reliable relationship between this disease and therefore the emotional factors that are related to it. Most specialists uphold the speculation that significant levels of misery and stress could encourage the outflow of the syndrome.
This hypothesis makes even more sense when remembering that there are many other hair conditions, like dandruff or dermatitis, which are associated with experiencing high periods of stress or experiences with a very high emotional charge.
Is there a treatment for it?
The incidence of this syndrome is extremely low, occurring only in between 0.2 and 0.3% of the general population. However, there are very effective treatments for the syndrome, which remits in approximately 80% of cases.
Autoimmune diseases, including alopecia, can have different effects on everyone. Therefore, the treatment of choice will depend on these effects. The extent of the lesions, as well as the period of time that the disease has been manifesting, will be factors to take into account when preparing an individualized intervention.
Nonetheless, much of the time the adjustment of the insusceptible reaction is looked for, gratitude to which the total and lasting recuperation of lost hair is generally accomplished.