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A mother’s warning has gone viral after a single strand of hair became tangled around her infant son’s toes.
Last month, Pregnancy Guide’s Instagram account resurfaced a 2017 post written by Jill Mraidi. The Florida-based mother-of-four took to social media after learning that her son narrowly avoided having multiple toes amputated due to what’s known as hair tourniquet syndrome.
According to Mraidi, a piece of hair somehow became wrapped around her then four-month-old’s toes, cutting off circulation and leaving three small indentations.
“I noticed the indentation in his toes and found a small piece of hair but figured [there’s] no way it could be from that, so I disregarded it,” Mraidi wrote. “I called right away for him to see the pediatrician and within two hours he was being seen. When the doctor told me it was caused by I piece of hair, I was in disbelief.”
According to the University of Chicago, hair tourniquet syndrome is a rare but serious condition that impacts infants when strands of hair or thin fabrics from clothing (socks, mittens and sleepers) becoming tangled around fingers, toes, umbilical cord stumps, tongues, wrists, earlobes and in some cases, external genitalia.
Babies with hair tourniquets may appear to be “fussy” and frequently cry from discomfort and pain. If not detected and removed immediately, hair tourniquets can cut off blood supply to the appendage. In severe cases, impacted areas become infected, leading to tissue death (necrosis) which often requires amputation.
Alberta Health Services notes that in most hair tourniquet cases, the strand of hair may not be visible to the naked-eye. If the hair has become tightly wound around the appendage, it may need to be removed by a doctor at the closest emergency room.
Depilatory creams have also been used by medical professionals to help resolve hair tourniquets, however severe cases with discoloured skin and swollen appendages require immediate medical attention.
Luckily for Mraidi, she was able to detect the tourniquet early, however her doctor informed her it’s not uncommon for affected appendages to require “immediate amputation.”
“It's most common in infants because of the postpartum hair loss of the mother,” Mraidi wrote. “Light coloured hair is extremely difficult to identify and surgeons often need microscopes to even see it. If you have infants or toddlers in the house, please keep this in mind!”
Pregnancy Guide’s repost of Mraidi’s message received more than 16,000 likes and more than 1,500 comments from mothers and caregivers sharing their experiences with hair tourniquets.
“This happens with thread loose inside the socks,” one woman wrote. “Always check or turn sock inside out [before you] put on.”
“This happened to my daughter at about five months old,” another said. “We lived in cold Chicago during the winter and she was in footies most of the time. Luckily I caught it in time! The surgery centre said if it had been just a little later she may have lost a toe...it was terrible and no one warned me of it.”