It sounds like one of those health hoaxes, but your hair can be dangerous for your baby, as mom Alex Upton discovered. Her 8-week-old son Ezra almost lost four of his toes when a strand of her hair tightly wrapped around his toes for up to 14 hours, reports People.com.
Alex, 26 years old, says that she woke up with Ezra crying and nothing could calm him. Then she noticed that four toes on his foot were red and swollen.
“Ezra wasn’t himself in the morning,” she told Metro.co.uk of the horrible experience. He wasn’t having any of his milk and was just screaming. It wasn’t until I was changing him and saw the little bit of hair that I realized why he was so upset.
“One of his toes was really swollen, and it had become really red and sore where the hair was. I pulled at it and realized how tightly it’d wrapped around his toes. It’d tangled around three or four of them,” she recalled.
It took her 15 minutes to pry the strand away with tweezers. She then took her baby to the hospital where a doctor prescribed antibacterial cream for the damaged area. Thankfully, Ezra is now doing well, the mom reports.
Unusual as it may sound, a hair strand cutting off circulation after it had wrapped itself on a body part can and does happen. It's called hair tourniquet syndrome. In fact, quite a few cases have been reported with all of them happening to infants. One 3-month-old even had to undergo surgery caused by the tightly wrapped hair.
On her Instagram, celeb mom Divine Lee revealed that she cut her hair because she was "praning" about hair tourniquet syndrome. "[My baby] keeps pulling my hair. I'm scared he might get hair torniquet while I'm sleeping."
Hair tourniquets can damage the nerves, skin tissue, and function of that body part,” explains Healthline. A strand of hair may be harmless to an adult, but infants have much smaller appendages, particularly fingers, toes, and genitals. Moreover, “postpartum mothers tend to lose a lot of hair, increasing a baby’s exposure to hairs,” adds Healthline. Hair tourniquet syndrome can also happen with loose thin thread or string from clothes or blankets.
A hair tourniquet can be difficult to remove as the toe may be swollen and the thin hair or thread hard to see and grasp. Tweezers may help, but if you are unable to remove it within minutes, take your infant to the hospital as surgery may be necessary.
Hair tourniquets become dangerous when it is left unnoticed. It can cause wounds, swelling, ischemia, where the hair causes lack of blood flow to the area, and even amputation.
“Hair is incredibly strong and can act like fishing wire. This has led to babies having toes and fingers amputated. It can also affect the penis,” midwife Cass McNamara told the BBC.
Hair tourniquets are very painful, so a baby with one will cry inconsolably. When your baby can’t seem to calm down, it’s a good idea to inspect all areas of her body just to be sure. Says Healthline, “Looking for a hair tourniquet is a unique but important addition to any parent or caregiver’s checklist when helping a crying baby.”
Alex tells People.com, “My advice to any parents would be when you’re changing [your baby] 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.”