The parents realized something was wrong only when they saw that their son's toe was changing color.
A single strand of hair can cause a lot of damage, and one woman learned it the hard way after her five-month-old son had to be rushed to the emergency room. Sara Ward, from St. Louis, took to Facebook to share a post explaining that her 5-month-old son, Logan, started developing a condition called hair tourniquet syndrome on January 22, 2022, and within a week, the little one had to be rushed to his pediatrician's office, urgent care and later, the emergency room at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. According to the National Library of Medicine, hair tourniquet syndrome is a rare disorder that affects toes of an infant. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of the condition is vital to attain a good outcome and prevent further harm to the child.
"This was my first time and even with being a third-time parent, I was not aware of this beforehand," Ward, a mom of three, told Good Morning America. "I had never seen this or this (had) never come up with any of my friends or family members that are moms. So I was definitely kind of in the dark on just how severe this can be," Ward said.
The mother realized something was wrong when her husband and she noticed that Logan's toes were "looking a little bit pink."
"We kind of didn't really think much of it that night because he didn't seem bothered by it at all," she said. They didn't pay much heed to it, thinking it would go back to normal, but over the weekend, they noticed that the child's toe was beginning to change color again. "By Monday, it hadn't improved and it was starting to look redder and we were kind of noticing this line that was going across the middle of the toe."
The worried mom rushed her son to the hospital, where she learned about hair tourniquet syndrome.
"Hair tourniquet syndrome is when there is a piece of hair or a thread of another material like a piece of cloth, that's tightly wrapped around a body part. It's usually a finger or a toe, but it also can be the genitals," Dr. Sara Holmstrom, a board-certified pediatrician and a pediatric emergency medicine fellow at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago explained.
While they are pretty uncommon, "It most often occurs in young infants under six months, most frequently on the toe, and most of the time, patients do not need surgery," Holmstrom added.
At the pediatrician's office, Ward said that doctors and nurses took about 40 minutes trying to remove the hair that had somehow gotten wrapped around his third right toe. "They took a look and they had to use all these kinds of special instruments. They brought in these magnifying goggles and special lights and they had these long tweezers and like little scalpels," Ward said. "They were going in there and they could not get it either. I mean they were able to get one small piece of it but they did not feel confident that they got it."
But they went home, thinking it would be normal, but "within a few hours of being home, it felt like the toe was starting to swell some and we felt like it was starting to look a little bit purple, in the back of the toe," Ward said. "So we became concerned again, and I took him into the urgent care center. And they sent us right to the emergency room." The little one was eventually admitted to the hospital and doctors told Ward they might have to consider surgery as an option.
"I was just kind of in shock the whole time that it was getting to this point. I just really thought nothing of it in the very beginning because it didn't seem to bother him and once we went into the pediatrician and they mentioned that a piece of hair got wrapped around it, I still thought it was going to be an easy fix and that well then, you can just go in and we'll remove the hair right here in the pediatrician's office. … I think that's where a lot of people don't understand the severity that these hair tourniquets can cause and that it can get to that point," Ward said.
Eventually, the doctors used a hair-removing cream to treat the finger, and Logan didn't need surgery. He was discharged once his swelling went down. "We're actually not really sure what happened. Some of the swelling started to come down. So we're not sure if maybe the hair removal creams might have worked. I mean, honestly, we couldn't even tell you because we never even really saw the hair."
Ward then reported that it took at least a week for Logan's toe to "fully look back to normal" and her baby boy has recovered three weeks after the scary incident.
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Image taken by Mayte Torres