You may be surprised to see your newborn’s body hair if you are a first-time mom. A newborn’s skin is usually dry and flaky and not as plump and smooth as commercials portray. However, it does not remain like that for long. Your baby’s body hair may be a cause of concern only in a few exceptional cases. Otherwise, they are naturally shed in a few months. Read on if you wish to know more about the fine hair on your infant’s body. We also provide some tips to make the shedding process faster.
About Newborn Body Hair:
The hair that you see on your newborn baby’s skin is called lanugo, a word derived from the Latin word lana, meaning wool (1).
- The hair is fine, but clearly visible.
- It mostly grows on the back, shoulders, forehead, ears and face of the child.
- It starts developing at 18 to 20 weeks of gestation ( 2).
- Premature babies are more likely to have such body hair.
- The hair is shed naturally and it may take from between a few weeks to a few months to disappear.
- Sometimes babies start shedding this hair while in the fetus, while others may be born with lanugo intact on their body.
Role Of Hair On Newborn Baby Body:
There is a definite reason for the existence of body hair on newborn babies ( 2).
- Lanugo acts as a protection on the tender skin of your baby while she is in your womb.
- It prevents any damage that can be caused by the amniotic fluid.
- It also holds together the vernix caseosa. a greasy wax-like layer that covers your child’s skin in the womb to keep it warm and moisturized. It also helps to facilitate easy passage through the bony cervix at the time of birth.
So, even if it does not look so nice, this initial body hair is advantageous to your little one.
How To Treat Newborn Baby Body Hair?
Even though hair on newborn body is lost naturally within one to four months after birth, here are a few tricks that will hasten the process:
- Apply olive oil on your baby’s body and massage gently twice a day.
- Use a paste of gram flour, turmeric and milk to massage your baby before giving a bath.
- Make a soft dough of wheat and gram flour and rub it all over your child’s body slowly. It will help soften the roots of the hair and remove it gradually.
- A paste of lentils and almonds, mixed with milk is also a good massage recipe.
Apart from facilitating removal of body hair, a massage will also give you quality bonding time with your child (3). But remember to be very gentle while massaging.
Problems Related To Newborn Baby Body Hair:
In some cases, body hair can be a cause for worry. This happens when the lanugo does not shed properly and develops into more prominent hair (4).
- Such a condition happens when a child has congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), signifying that they lack a certain enzyme.
- CAH causes reduction or lack of production of a hormone called cortisol or aldosterone.
- This further leads to higher secretion of the male hormone androgen, which causes excessive hair growth.
- This problem can occur in male and female babies.
- CAH also causes low sodium in the blood, which can lead to improper functioning of the heart.
What If Body Hair Does Not Disappear?
If your baby has not shed the initial hair within a maximum period of six months, or is developing darker hair, then you must consult a doctor.
- Because of the problems related to CAH, its timely treatment is necessary.
- Children with CAH are generally administered the required hormones externally to maintain a balance and prevent any serious condition (4).
For most new parents, it could be surprising to witness their newborn baby’s body hair. However, while it is not a common phenomenon, sometimes babies have considerable body hair after birth. You may have to wait for a few weeks for the hair to shed off. Also, it could be replaced by fine hair. Though your baby’s body hair is seldom a cause of concern, in some cases, the hair could develop prominently and may not shed with time. If you encounter such a situation, you may contact your baby’s pediatrician, who could comprehend its reason and suggest an appropriate remedy.
- Newborn Appearance.
- Embryology, Lanugo.
- The many benefits of infant massage.
- Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia in the Newborn.