You have now become the mother of a beautiful baby after nine long months. When you hold the baby in your arms for the first time, the feeling is magical and surreal. It is now that you notice his features and his skin. The skin is probably wrinkled, and there will be some body hair. However, these hair are a temporary phase which will soon pass off.
What Is Lanugo or Newborn Baby Body Hair?
The hair that is found on a newborn baby’s body is known as lanugo. It is derived from the Latin word ‘Lana” which means wool. You can clearly see the hair though it has a fine texture. Most of this hair is seen on the baby’s back, ears, neck, face and shoulders. While some babies shed the body hair before they announce their arrival to the world, some infants are born with lanugo.
Is it Normal for Newborn babies to Have Body Hair?
Yes! It is entirely normal to for babies to have body hair. It is natural insulation for babies while they are in the womb. Mothers often get stressed about this common phenomenon which will definitely disappear in a few weeks. Be assured that lanugo is normal and there is no need to remove it. Rubbing this hair will only irritate the baby’s sensitive skin. A premature baby is most likely to be a Lanugo, hair baby. The development of this body hair begins when the fetus is between 18 to 20 weeks old. This fine, wispy layer of hair is quite visible on babies with darker complexions.
Role of Hair on New Born Baby Body
Lanugo newborn hair or body hair on an infant has a specific role to play while the baby in the mother’s womb. This is how it helps the baby:
- The baby’s skin is covered with a wax-like layer called vernix while it is in the womb. This is helpful in keeping the baby warm, and its skin moisturised. It also allows smooth movement through the cervix during childbirth. Lanugo helps vernix to hold on to the baby’s skin effectively. Vernix is the deposit that babies have on their bodies, at birth, from being in the womb.
- The body hair protects the gentle skin of the baby while it is growing in the womb.
- It also helps to prevent any effect of the amniotic fluid on the baby
Problems Associated With Infant Body Hair
If the lanugo hair does not shed completely or in time, it becomes a cause of concern for parents. It could also develop into prominent hair as the baby grows. Lanugo hair could also lead to the following problems:
- Body hair is seen on an infant when the baby is diagnosed with CAH-Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. It denotes that the baby is enzyme-deficient.
- CAH is responsible for lower levels or total absence of cortisol or aldosterone.
- It also leads to higher production of the male hormone androgen thus causing abnormal growth of facial and body hair.
- CAH is also responsible for low levels of sodium in the blood. This could lead to improper working of the baby’s heart.
- Male as well as female babies are affected by lanugo.
How to Remove Newborn Baby Body Hair?
If you are worried about how to treat lanugo in newborn babies, try the following remedies to get quick and permanent results:
- A gentle massage of the baby using mild baby oil is a proven way of reducing baby body hair. Repeat it twice a day in the morning and evening for best results. The use of olive oil is also highly recommended.
- Mix turmeric powder, milk and sandalwood powder into a paste and apply it before bathing the baby. Focus on areas that have a greater concentration of lanugo.
- Take two tablespoons of wheat flour and mix it with one tablespoon of gram flour. Create a ball of dough by adding water to it. Rub this dough gently over your baby’s body before a bath, and you will notice a visible difference.
- As a last resort, doctors could administer synthetic hormones through steroids to manage the right hormone levels. However, this has to be done carefully and monitored closely. Treatment for hormonal issues takes a long time and needs patience.
- Mix lentils and almonds in half a cup of milk and apply this mixture to the skin before you bathe your little one.
What to Do If Baby’s Body Hair Does Not Disappear?
You should immediately consult your doctor if you see that your baby hasn’t shed its body hair in the first six months. Keep an eye if the hair is darker than when they first appeared. Waiting for the hair to shed naturally is the first option. If your child is suffering from CAH- Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, it will need medical intervention at the earliest. Your baby will then need hormonal shots to maintain the right hormonal balance and avoid any further worsening of the condition.
While lanugo isn’t a major cause of concern in most cases, mothers should always voice any concerns to their doctors. They can address these concerns and suggest remedies if necessary. If the baby’s lanugo is growing darker by the day or shedding has stopped, call the paediatrician immediately. Also, if the lanugo persists till the child is a few years old, it could be due to an eating disorder and should not be ignored.