Give Now  »

Noon Edition

Lanugo Hairs

If you've seen many newborn babes, you've probably noticed a striking difference in what they come equipped with on the top of their heads. Some babies are born with a full head of thick, colorful hair, while other babies are born with very thin, hard-to-see hair.

You may have noticed too that some babies lose this thin, hard-to-see hair soon after birth. While they're waiting for new hair to grow in, if they are girls, their mothers cover their heads with pink bows and bonnets so that admiring folks won't call them Little Man.

These children aren't necessarily going bald, nor are they destined to do so. It's actually not all that uncommon for babies to be born with very little hair, or to lose it soon after being born. Those barely-there hairs that fall out after the baby is born are probably lanugo hairs.

Soon after the hair follicles are produced in the womb, they sprout the body's first hair--lanugo hair, which covers us from head to toe. It's characterized by its lack of pigmentation and for being ultra fine and soft. Then, at about eight months into gestation most people lose their lanugo hair, so that it may be replaced by two new kinds of hair, vellus and terminal hair--the kinds of hair we will have for the rest of our lives.

Those babies who are born with lanugo hair will probably lose it soon enough and replace it with vellus and terminal hairs just like the rest of us.

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science