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New Parents, Do You Know What a 'Hair Tourniquet' Is?

The Short of It

When Scott and Jessica Walker's 19-week-old daughter, Molly, started screaming at lunch, the couple had no idea what was causing the upset. But then Jessica took off her daughter's socks and immediately discovered the source of the screaming: a hair that was wrapped around her toe!

The Lowdown

"Had a small scare this afternoon with Ms. Molly," Scott wrote on Facebook. "What happened was new to me, but apparently not totally uncommon, so I figured I'd share with my fellow parents out there."


Had a small scare this afternoon with Ms. Molly. What happened was new to me, but apparently not totally uncommon, so I...

Posted by Scott Walker on Thursday, January 21, 2016

Scott went on to explain that Molly had been cranky that day, and when she started to overheat from all the screaming, Jess decided to remove her socks.

"That's when we saw her toe," he explained. "This is called a hair tourniquet, which is literally a strand of hair that, while inside a sock, unexplainably wraps around a toe so tight that it can cut through the skin and potentially cut off blood circulation."

Yikes! So how does this happen? Babies tend to grab their parents' or caregivers' hair, and a piece of it can end up in places like a diaper or sock without you evening noticing.

"Luckily for Molly, she has a mother with medical emergency superpowers who was able to remove the hair with tweezers and a magnifying glass within a few minutes," Scott said. "Unfortunately, the hair managed to cut all the way through Molly's skin, completely around her toe, but it could have been worse had it gone much longer untreated, or if the hair wasn't accessible. The doctor told me, for future reference, to always check the toes if the baby is inconsolable. Just an FYI to any parents or care takers out there."

The Upshot

I have two kids and have never heard the phrase "hair tourniquet" until today. Neither had the Walkers. So after the ordeal was over, Scott decided to share the story in hopes of enlightening friends and family who were also new parents.

"It was a pretty scary situation," Scott told Today. "It ended very well, but it was scary enough where I wouldn't want anyone else to deal with something like that, so I wrote about it."

His post has since been shared more than 26,000 times and liked almost 37,000 times. "The power of social media," he wrote in a recent update. "One week ago I posted about Molly's incident with the hair tourniquet and as of today, that story has been shared over 1,400 times, across the U.S. and 6 different continents; even translated in different languages. Amazing. Maybe Molly's tough luck will save a little toe out there someday."

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