Many parents find their newborn’s appearance surprising. You might have assumed that your newborn is pink in health, however, chancing upon body hair growth at such an early stage might seem astonishing. This is because of the fine, downy, dark hair growth that covers the baby’s body. The hair growth covers certain parts of the body including the back, shoulders, ears and forehead.

Technically, the hair growth is known as “Lanugo” and is found to grow on every infant’s body. The hair growth begins, sometime around the last stage of pregnancy and is therefore found generally, in all full grown babies. Shortly upon birth, the lanugo withers away. In some cases, it may remain for months (as in cases of prematurely born babies). Even if this body hair growth does not look good cosmetically, it has an essential role in the protection of the baby. Due to the pattern of the hair growth on the baby’s body, lanugo is in jest called the “Baby’s Monkey Hair”. 

How do you identify Lanugo?

When the baby is born, it is noted that its skin tends to be dry and flaky. In addition to this, there are signs of uneven hair growth on the back, shoulders, forehead, ears and face of the child. While this hair growth develops in between 18-20 weeks of gestations, it sheds, sometimes in the womb itself or sometimes after the birth. The body hair growth is sometimes referred to as the “fuzz on a peach”.

Why some babies have dark and fine hair growth all over their bodies?

1. The lanugo acts as a protective layer on the tender skin of the baby, preventing it from drying out by holding together the Vernix caseosa, which is a greasy wax-like layer that covers the baby’s skin in the womb, to keep it warm and moist by sealing in moisture, and serves as a natural skin cleanser, an anti-infective and an antibacterial wound-healing agent.

2. The lanugo also avoids any damage that can be caused by the amniotic fluid- a constant immersion for a prolonged period of time in which, could chip and irritate the baby’s delicate skin.

3. It facilitates easy passage of the baby’s body through the bay cervix at the time of birth thus, protecting it.

4. It also helps in keeping the baby warm and regulates its body temperature until it has grown enough fat under its skin.

5. As an indication of premature birth, the lanugo appears as thick and long manifestations on the baby’s body. Some babies are born with quite long and dark lanugo hair.  This unnatural hair growth doesn’t require any treatment as it in most cases-withers on its own a few weeks after birth and is replaced by new hair, having the baby’s natural hair colour.

6. Alternatively, the reason why prematurely born babies’ have this uncontrollable and uneven hair growth is because, of the immature development of their circulatory system. Hence, prematurely born babies need to be put on a ventilator to help them circulate oxygen in their bloodstream.

This rapid and uneven growth of hair tends to scare most new mothers however, they should understand that this is nothing to be worried about because the baby will shed this hair at some point. Hence, treatment is not necessary as most paediatricians suggest.

How to hasten the process though?

Though the hair growth takes its natural course to shed, you can hasten the process using natural yet harmless remedies on your child. On the region where the hair growth is dense, apply olive oil and massage the baby’s body for about twice a day. Also, to eliminate the hair growth, grind turmeric powder, milk, gramme flour, wheat and lentils into a fine paste and massage it on the baby’s skin. Take care not to massage over the spine area or press it hard, as it is a sensitive part for your baby.

What if the lanugo does not disappear?

In some rare cases, the hair growth, on the contrary, speeds up and could be a cause of worry for young mothers. In cases of which, the baby must be diagnosed immediately to bring its hormones under control. The condition where the fine hair growth does not disappear but becomes persistent instead is called “Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia”– a condition wherein the infant’s body faces inefficiency in producing a certain hormone called Cortisol. This not only leads to abnormal the hair growth but also, causes improper circulation of blood in the heart due to low levels of sodium in the blood. To avoid this ensure that the child is well fed, as malnourishment is one of the reasons for the dark hair growth to persist above normal levels.

Love your child no matter what

As cliched as it might sound, excessive body hair growth or not, your child is your bundle of joy.  You might have had dreams about how your baby will turn out to look, but never feel disappointed if it is not born like how you expected it to. Understand that the hair growth is just a temporary phase. Shower all the love you can on your child and understand that this is the phase in its life where it needs maximum skin contact. If your friends or relatives enquire about the hair growth, do not feel embarrassed to talk about it but instead tell them about the condition.


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