Mum's warning after newborn almost loses four toes
"I feared he might lose some of his toes if I hadn't noticed the hair then..." Read this mum's warning about hair tourniquet syndrome in babies.
10-week-old baby Ezra was just not his usual self that morning. He was screaming and refused to drink milk.
Mummy Alex Upton was worried why he was acting so strange.
“His normal routine is he wakes up, has his bottle then has a nap. He wasn’t having any of his milk and was just screaming”, she has been quoted as saying, in The Sun.
It was when she changed him that she noticed the REAL problem. One of the baby’s toes was really red, sore and swollen.
It was a strand of hair. A single strand of the mummy’s hair had got entangled around three or four toes of the little one.
“I pulled at it and realised how tightly it’d wrapped around his toes. It’d tangled around three or four of them.”
“I managed to get it off except for the toe next to his big toe. That’d gone so tight that it got to the point where I couldn’t get it off.”
Alex started panicking, because she knew that the hair had been restricting circulation to the toes for a good 12-14 hours. Any further delay could lead to serious complications, and the baby could end up losing his toes..
The baby had developed hair tourniquet syndrome.
“After 15 minutes, I thought I’d have to call the doctor or take him to hospital but in the end I managed to get my tweezers underneath and pull it off.”
“After that, I did take Ezra to the doctors just to be checked over and they gave me some anti-bacterial cream to put on it.”
Thankfully, baby Ezra is fine now. Mummy Alex is super cautious these days, “I’ll certainly be checking everything for hair from now on. I felt awful. It must have been on there for 12 to 14 hours because I only noticed it in the morning.”
“I feared Ezra might lose some of his toes and he could easily have needed [to have them removed] if I hadn’t noticed the hair then.
Alex has this advice for all new parents, “When you’re changing baby-grows or putting on socks, or even getting them out of the bath, check thoroughly and make sure you turn clothing inside out first to remove any stray hair.”
“Hair easily gets stuck in things when they’ve been in the washing machine too, so it’s important to check.”
Hair Tourniquet Syndrome in Babies
What is hair tourniquet syndrome in babies?
The hair tourniquet syndrome happens when a hair – or a piece of thread – gets trapped near a baby’s finger, toe or penis, and becomes tightly wound around it. It could be just one loose strand of hair from the mum’s or maid’s head, or even a strand of thread from a sock, which tightens while wriggling.
The condition is known to aggravate while inside a sock, when the hair inexplicably wraps around a toe so tight, that it can cut through the skin and potentially cut off blood circulation.
It can also happen during sleep, usually under sheets or baby blankets which have loose threads that can constrict the toes.
Signs of hair tourniquet syndrome in babies
This condition is surprisingly common in babies who have no way of reporting symptoms. However:
- The child will become suddenly uncomfortable and miserable. As the toe is often inside a sock, the cause may not be clear.
- His toe or finger swells up: The affected toe will not have proper blood circulation. The toe will therefore swell and turn blue.
What to do if you suspect a hair tourniquet
- If your baby is crying inconsolably for no apparent reason, and it’s none of the usual suspects, take off every bit of clothing from her body. It’s worth examining her fingers, toes and even genitals.
- If you do spot that strand of hair thats causing all the trouble, carefully use tweezers or nail scissors, and free the hair. Some mums recommend using a bobby pin instead, since it’s thin and not sharp at all. Slide the pin between the strand and the skin to pop it off.
- If you feel that the hair is too tightly wound to the skin, or fear infection, do not hesitate, take your baby to the doctor immediately.
Preventing hair tourniquet syndrome in babies
- Examine baby’s socks, booties and mittens thoroughly before dressing : Turn them inside out and check for loose thread, loops, tags or anything that baby can get a finger or toe stuck in.
- Be doubly careful with pre-loved clothes: Sibling hand-me-downs, or other pre-loved clothes have a greater chance of loose dangling thread.