All about lanugo hair and newborns

All about lanugo hair and newborns

Don't be surprised to see your newborn baby's body covered in fine, white hair, known as lanugo. This article brings you some really interesting information about lanugo hair.

To add to the surprise of wrinkled skin, baby acne and birthmarks at birth, another surprising newborn feature is lanugo hair.

What is lanugo?

The word “lanugo” is derived from the Latin word for wool, “lana”. It is the soft and downy hair that sometimes covers a newborn’s body, except for his palms, the soles of his feet, lips, genitals, nails and sides of fingers and toes.

It is most commonly seen on a baby’s shoulders, forehead, back and face.

Lanugo is the first hair to be produced by fetal hair follicles, and usually appears on your baby around the 5th month of pregnancy. This unpigmented hair generally falls off or is consumed by your baby between the 36th and 40th weeks of pregnancy.

When the lanugo is consumed by your baby, it is stored in his intestines and helps form meconium, which is the first bowel movement your little one will have.

Usually, your baby will lose his lanugo while he is still in your womb — usually when you are around seven to eight months pregnant.

However, sometimes, babies are born with lanugo, especially if they are premature or born slightly early. There is absolutely nothing to worry about the presence of lanugo hair, and it will fall off on its own in a few weeks.

The purpose of lanugo hair

Newborn babies have lanugo hair for a reason. While your baby is in your womb, lanugo protects his tender skin from amniotic fluid.

It also helps vernix caseosa adhere to your baby’s skin. Vernix is a greasy white wax-like substance that covers your baby’s skin while in-utero in order to keep it warm and moisturised. It also helps the baby slip more easily through your cervix and birth canal during delivery.


Lanugo is commonly seen on a baby’s shoulders and back. Image: Pinterest

When to be worried about lanugo

Sometimes, if a baby’s lanugo doesn’t shed on its own within a month, it could be an indication of a condition known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or CAH, say medical experts.

CAH is a condition where a baby is born lacking a particular enzyme that initiates the production of the hormones cortisol or aldosterone. This means the child will make more male hormones (androgens), regardless of gender, leading to excessive growth of hair, especially in females.

Babies with CAH might also have a low blood sodium concentration, according to health professionals. This could lead to dehydration, heart issues and shock.

Treatment for CAH

Usually, treatment involves balancing the baby’s hormones via daily artificial hormones and steroid medications. Hair growth normalises once the hormones are at proper levels for the baby’s age and gender.

If you are concerned about your baby’s lanugo, or worried about any aspect of his health, do not hesitate to contact a medical professional without delay.


*Featured image from Pinterest

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