Hairband found in girl's arm shows the need for parental vigilance always

Always stay alert and aware, mums and dads!

Mum-bun — check. Wearing elastic band on wrist to tie hair in a flash — check. Ballet flats for comfort — check. 

These are things all of us do, and we pass down these habits more often than not to our little ones as well. Take wearing elastic band on wrist for example — many little girls do this too. They may be mimicking you, or they might be pretending it's a pretty bangle. Or in some cultures, kids even wear red or black bands around their wrists for good luck. 

However, even something as innocent as a hair band around your child's wrist or arm may have unexpected and harmful consequences as you're soon to find out in this cautionary tale. 

wearing elastic band on wrist Wearing elastic band on wrist or arm can be dangerous. | Source: stock photo

Wearing Elastic Band on Wrist Turned to Surgical Nightmare

In China, the grandparents of four-year-old girl Le Le recently observed a huge, swollen ring on her arm, right below her elbow. They brought her to the hospital. Initially doctors thought it was an infection or an allergy.

However, the condition worsened, so her parents brought her to a hospital, where medical professionals scanned the girl. They discovered that Le Le's arm was housing a foreign object deep inside it. 

 

wearing elastic band on wrist. The perpetrator: a rubber band. | Image: Metro, Twitter

Apparently, Le Le wore an elastic band on her arm. Although she lives with her grandparents, she didn't inform them when the band  dug into her arm. After it went unnoticed for some time, the failure to remove it caused the elastic band to lodge itself under her skin.

Her skin began covering it, until it was completely engulfed by her flesh.

In the end, surgical intervention was needed to remove the rubber band. Thankfully, surgeons at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou were successful. We are happy to report that Le Le is healing well.

"Children in China tend to put red bands over their arms as a good luck charm. However, these foreign objects can easily be concealed in the flaps of the child’s skin," explains Doctor Ye Wensong.

What We Can Learn from this Incident 

Rubber bands that are pushed up to the elbow of small children can be easily missed because their arms are chubby and the folds of flesh can easily hide something like a rubber band. 

Unfortunately, it's not just rubber bands. Mums, even your hair can wrap around your baby's toes, fingers and/or penis, causing it to swell.

Called a hair tourniquet, a hair can reduce the blood supply to the extremity it is wrapped around, preventing blood drainage in the opposite direction. If the condition remains untreated, the blood supply can be completely cut off and babies can lose the affected organ by auto amputation — but this is a very rare occurrence.

Babies also like exploring with their mouths, meaning, everything they encounter is popped into their mouth — including highly dangerous objects like button batteries

wearing elastic band on wrist Even a lithium iron baby can be deadly. | Image Source: stock photo

Preventive Measures to Take

As parents, there are a few ways to prevent children from endangering themselves from choking and other hazards. One of them is ensuring that such objects are out of their reach.

The things that pose the highest risk include sharp objects, rings, buttons, ribbons, cords, batteries, coins, popped balloons, marbles, nuts, seeds, grapes, popcorn, chunks of meat, even carrots. 

Anything small enough to get caught in the throat is a potential choking hazard. Children can even mistakenly inhale seeds which, when stuck in a child's airway, leads to infection.

Another good tip is to only provide toys, dolls, or stuffed animals that are safe, from reputable companies, and have no small parts that might come off. So inspect your baby's  toes, fingers, or penis, at every bath to prevent hair from getting tangled up with them.

Constant Vigilance

The next best alternative is constant vigilance, especially in someone else's home. This is because their play area isn't within your control, and there may be all sorts of non-childproofed items that your toddler might be attracted to.

The Red Flags Every Parent Should Know

What signs are indicative that your toddler is in danger? Below are some signs that suggest that a toddler could have swallowed a foreign object.

Seek medical help IMMEDIATELY if your child:

  • Swallowed a button or disc battery, because there may be irreversible consequences
  • Swallowed a sharp or pointed object, like a safety pin
  • Doesn't stop gagging, coughing, wheezing, or develops a fever.
  • Is unable to swallow food or saliva (foreign objects can make eating or drinking uncomfortable). 
  • Doesn't want to eat. This is because their throat feels tight which  could affect their appetite. 
  • Can't stop drooling. A blocked throat can cause saliva to accumulate, which stimulates drooling. 

wearing elastic band on wrist Excessive drooling can be a sign of an underlying condition. | Image sourced from Shutterstock.

  • Experiences throat pain for over 24 hours. 
  • Suffers from chest or abdominal pain. Objects that pass through the digestive tract can cause more and more pain. 
  • Vomits fluid that looks like blood. Swallowed objects can cause injury or scarring, so watch out! 
  • Turns blue or loses consciousness. The foreign object may be blocking their windpipe, causing suffocation.  
  • Has toes, fingers or a penis that is oddly coloured (swollen red or purple) or has an indentation.  
  • Is upset and you can't work out why. It's possible that hairs can wrap around toes really tightly but be invisible to the eye.

What To Do If You Suspect Something Is Wrong

Although a swallowed object will usually pass down the intestines over time, it is still best to consult a doctor as soon as this happens. Accidentally inhaling food when kids talk while eating or lying down can also be dangerous. 

Nurse Madelyn Goble advises that it is safe to remove wrapped hairs around your toddler's toes, fingers, or penis if it isn't too tight. Otherwise, it is best to seek medical advice if you see a discoloured penis, finger or toe with a very tight wrap . Only professionals know the “certain ways you have to release a hair tourniquet in order not to nick a nerve,” as Ms Goble puts it. 

wearing elastic band on wrist Remember, parents, always seek the help of a medical professional if in doubt. | Image Source: stock photo

We at theAsianparent hope this article about the dangers of small objects and wearing elastic band on wrist has helped prevent serious injury. Remember, parents, if in doubt, please seek medical help.

The emergency assistance in Singapore can be contacted through the Emergency Ambulance hotline 995 or non-emergency hotline at 1777. 

 

References: Gazette Live, Courrier Mail, ABS-CBN News, Singhealth 

Also Read:

Hidden dangers in baby nursery

Baby Olie's case highlights dangers of kids swallowing button batteries

How to make a safe nursery