Why are copper colored streaks appearing in my father's grey hair?

5 answers | Last updated: Oct 03, 2016
Dlb61 asked...

My 88 year old father has gray hair (used to be brown.) We've noticed over the past few months that he has some patches of copperish colored streaks appearing in his hair. Any ideas why this might be happening?


Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Changes in hair color typically occur naturally as people age. Most of us will eventually develop gray hair as we get older, but this will eventually turn white (called achromotrichia) when we get old enough.

Hair color can change due to chlorine in the tap water, mineral deposits in well water, or it may temporarily change after a serious illness. Regarding your father's case, I would bet it has something to do with some of his hair being white (not gray), and it is turning color from the copper in his water pipes.

If you really concerned about it and you want a professional opinion, you can always take him to see a dermatologist.

Community Answers

Donna walker answered...

Iron in the water from rusty pipes in an older house or one with a well will cause a build-up of copper colored or rusty streaks. One way to remove this is with a rinse of a mixture of

1 part lemon juice (bottled, no pulp) 1 part Epsom salts 1 part club soda 4 parts water

Pour over hair after shampooing, let set a minute or so and then rinse thoroughly. This is very good for removing hair products on a regular basis, plus removing heavy metal deposits that get lodged in the hair cuticle. It also smoothes the hair shaft, making it shinier and healthy. It may take several applications to remove the streaks, and then regular usage (even every shampoo is safe) to prevent it returning if the problem is iron or copper in the water.

Dlb61 answered...

Thank you both. The house is new as are the pipes and they are on city water, not well. But the rinse you recommended sounds like a good idea anyway. :)

Kduncan answered...

Is he a smoker--unfortunately Nicotine stains the hair. Another way to "erase" the color is to use a VERY samll amount of bluing in his shampoo

Nettie price answered...

I would check out the possibility of Wilson's Disease which cause ccpper color to appear in the eye.