If you’ve ever experienced the horrifying discovery of a single white long hair somewhere on your face such as your forehead, or chin, that you swore wasn’t there the day before, you’re not alone. “The reason that many of us do not notice the white hairs before they are long is because they are more close to skin color and therefore are not noticeable until they become quite long,” explains dermatologist S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, CEO and founder of Miami Skin Institute.
There’s no single medical term for this phenomenon, nor is there one direct cause. Dr. Jegasothy says that a single outcropping of white hair can occur in an area that has an overall skin pigmentation issue such as vitiligo. “However, vitiligo is rather rare, so most people who experience these hairs may be experiencing them because of temporary pigmentation disruption, such as a superficial skin fungus from going to the beach,” she explains.
If you’ve been hitting the sun and sand hard this summer, she recommends treating the area with a prescription antifungal cream for two weeks. And if the hairs cease to regain their color, make another visit to the dermatologist to rule out a larger issue like vitiligo or other pigment-related disorders.
The root of these single white hairs can also be fluctuating hormones. “Another possibility is that just like long black hair that grows on the face and neck, these white hairs are also random (genetically mutant) hair that grow during times of hormonal fluctuation in specific places, such as the chin, neck and t-zone,” says Dr. Jegasothy.
There might not be a way to prevent rogue facial hairs, but Dr. Jegasothy does have some comfort for those of us who experience the phenomenon: “Don’t worry about plucking the hair out; it won’t cause more to grow!” So reach for those tweezers.