Mom Warns Others About Hair Tourniquet Syndrome After Baby's Severe Swelling

Mason Joseph Zimmer
baby beaming from hospital crib
Facebook | Sara Ward

While there are some health ailments that most of us will experience in our lives, others are harder to spot because they don't occur very often.

But of course, that doesn't make them any less serious and that goes double when treatment seems impossible because not even doctors know what a patient is suffering from.

So while it's clear that identifying a condition like this is as important as it gets, there are no shortage of rare diseases that require a lifetime of treatment or that remain shrouded in mystery when it comes to everything but their name and symptoms.

With all of that in mind, it's hardly surprising that both health care workers and parents would be vigilant for any problems a new baby might have when they're first experiencing the world.

But as we're about to see, some serious conditions can have such subtle causes and signs that it's easy to understand why they'd slip through the cracks.

On January 22, Sara Ward of St. Louis, Missouri noticed that one of her five-month-old son Logan's toes was "looking a little pink."

baby beaming next to rattle in hospital crib
Facebook | Sara Ward

As she told Good Morning America, this wasn't any real cause for concern at first, but that changed when his toe started to turn deeper colors over the course of a weekend.

This led her and her husband to take Logan to his pediatrician, which is where they first learned about hair tourniquet syndrome.

As Dr. Sara Holmstrom of Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago explained, this condition arises after a strand of hair or a thin piece of cloth entangles a person's toe, finger, or even genitalia.

Although hair tourniquet syndrome is mostly seen in infants under six months, it's a generally rare condition.

baby's foot with toe swelling because of tangled hair strand
Facebook | Sara Ward

Indeed, only 81 cases have been reported in patients aged two to 22 between May of 2004 and March of 2014.

And while surgery usually isn't necessary for most patients, it seemed like a likely outcome in Logan's case as doctors were unable to remove the hair strand manually even with specialized instruments.

This possibility shocked Ward, who said, "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."

By the time doctors considered surgery, Logan's toe had gone from red to purple and the tangled strand was causing some bleeding.

baby sleeping against mother's chest in black and white photo
Facebook | Sara Ward

But as Ward would soon learn from his case, there was still one option left before it was time for surgery as doctors will try to use hair-dissolving chemical solutions like Nair or Veet before any surgical last resort.

Fortunately, Logan's swelling began to improve after this treatment and his toe appeared to return to normal a week after he was discharged. And while it's possible that the chemical treatments finally removed the hair, Ward said it was hard to tell.

In her words, "I mean, honestly, we couldn't even tell you because we never even really saw the hair."

Although Logan didn't fuss at the onset of his condition, Homstrom said that unexplained discomfort in a baby is usually the only sign besides swelling and discoloration that anything's wrong.

h/t: Good Morning America