2 Apr 2024

Shedding of Lanugo and Vernix Caseosa

Shedding of Lanugo and Vernix Caseosa
In the 38th week of your pregnancy, as your baby prepares for birth, two significant changes occur on their skin: the shedding of lanugo, the fine hair that has covered their body, and the reduction of vernix caseosa, the waxy protective coating.
Both of these features have served crucial roles during your baby’s development in the womb and their reduction or shedding is a natural part of preparing for life outside the womb.
Shedding of Lanugo
  • Purpose of Lanugo: Lanugo has been covering your baby's skin since the second trimester. It plays a role in protecting the skin and also aids in the adherence of vernix caseosa.
  • Shedding Process: As your baby reaches full term, the lanugo begins to shed. This is a sign that their skin has matured enough to protect and regulate temperature without the need for this extra layer of hair.
  • Absorption into Amniotic Fluid: The shed lanugo is usually absorbed into the amniotic fluid. Some of it may also be ingested by the baby, which is a normal process and not harmful.
Reduction of Vernix Caseosa
  • Role of Vernix Caseosa: Vernix caseosa has been covering your baby’s skin, protecting it from the amniotic fluid and providing antibacterial properties.
  • Decrease in Thickness: As birth approaches, the amount of vernix caseosa on your baby's skin decreases. However, some vernix may still be present at birth, especially in the folds of the skin.
  • Benefits at Birth: The vernix that remains at birth can help protect your baby’s skin from the dry air outside the womb and is beneficial for temperature regulation and skin hydration in the first few days of life.
Significance for Newborns
  • Adaptation to External Environment: The shedding of lanugo and reduction of vernix caseosa are indicators that your baby is preparing for the transition from the aquatic environment of the womb to the air and environment outside.
  • Indicator of Maturity: These changes are signs of physical maturity and readiness for birth.
Considerations for Parents
  • Observation After Birth: It’s common for newborns to have some vernix caseosa at birth, especially in skin creases and folds. Lanugo may also be present on some newborns, particularly if they are born before 40 weeks.
  • Gentle Skin Care: Newborn skin is delicate. If vernix is present, it’s often best to leave it to absorb naturally into the baby’s skin.
The shedding of lanugo and the reduction of vernix caseosa in week 38 are natural and significant steps in your baby’s journey towards birth.
These changes signal that your baby’s skin has developed the ability to function and protect itself outside the womb, indicating readiness for the world outside.
All I Need To Know
Blocked user
22 Jun 2022

Don't wash your babies right after birth! Wait at least a week or two. Rinse bottom if needed, but that's it. The white (vernix caseosa) protective layer on the skin after birth is very beneficial and plays an important role in a healthy immune system and to protect the skin's natural microbiome to the outside world. Baths and use of soaps and fragrant products are the reason why so many babies experience dry skin and other related issues as newborns. They are not dirty. Leave it on, and rub it into the skin like lotion. Use mild/natural things only, if you want to moisturize/wash after a while, like Castile soap, African black soap and breast milk, coconut oil, raw shea butter, jojoba oil, olive oil, etc. Skip the big chain retailer baby products like Dove, Johnson and Johnson, Baby Magic, etc. They are not good!


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