A mum says her baby almost lost four toes when a single strand of her own hair wrapped around them and cut off the circulation for 12 hours.
Teaching assistant Alex Upton, 26, was woken up by her inconsolable 10-week-old son, Ezra, last week and was flummoxed by his refusal to take milk.
After spotting his red, swollen toes, she discovered a piece of her hair was restricting circulation to them, leaving him in agony.
The unsettled baby had developed hair tourniquet syndrome, which mostly affects infants when hair becomes tied around their toes, fingers, tongue or umbilical stump.
Alex is now urging mums and dads to check their babies to avoid the terrifying injury.
The mum from Paignton, Devon, in the UK, said: “I’ll certainly be checking everything for hair from now on.
“I just can’t believe midwives or doctors don’t warn you of the risk when you have a baby.
“I feared Ezra might lose some of his toes and he could easily have needed [to have them removed] if I hadn’t noticed the hair then.
“It must have been on there for 12 to 14 hours because I only noticed it in the morning.”
When Baby Ezra had refused to take his milk and was screaming, Alex immediately thought something was amiss, as it was out of character.
When changing the little one, she was horrified to find four of the toes on his left foot were red and swollen due to a strand of her own light brown hair being wrapped tightly around them.
Alex said: “Ezra wasn’t himself in the morning. His normal routine is he wakes up, has his bottle then has a nap.
“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 realised why he was so upset. It was just a single strand.
“One of his toes was really swollen and it had become really red and sore where the hair was.
“I pulled at it and realised how tightly it’d wrapped around his toes. It’d tangled around three or four of them.
“I managed to get it off except for the toe next to his big toe. That’d gone so tight that it got to the point where I couldn’t get it off.
“I made a panicked call to my husband Ben, 29, as I was trying to get it free.
“His toes are so small that it was hard to get under the piece of hair.
“After 15 minutes, I thought I’d have to call the doctor or take him to hospital but in the end I managed to get my tweezers underneath and pull it off.
“After that, I did take Ezra to the doctors just to be checked over and they gave me some anti-bacterial cream to put on it.”
Mum’s amputation fears
Alex, who is currently on maternity leave with little Ezra, feared he could have needed an amputation if the hair had stayed on his little toes for much longer.
She has now urged other parents to stay vigilant when bathing or dressing their children.
The ‘safety-conscious’ mum is hoping that by speaking out, she will prevent other babies going through the unnecessary pain Ezra did.
Alex said: “I’m normally really safety conscious with the kids but I had never expected this to happen to us.
“My advice to any parents would be when you’re changing baby-grows 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.
“Hair easily gets stuck in things when they’ve been in the washing machine too, so it’s important to check.
“I panicked a lot because I’d seen things about it before but never really it’d happen to one of my kids.
“Luckily Ezra’s okay now and back to his normal self.”
What is hair tourniquet syndrome?
Hair tourniquet syndrome occurs when hair wraps around a body part and cuts off circulation.
Symptoms include excessive crying, red or discoloured fingers, toes, genitals, tongue or umbilical cord, mild to severe swelling, an indentation even if the hair isn’t visible.
It can damage nerves, tissue and the function of the body part. In extreme cases, babies may lose the affected body part.
It occurs mostly in babies due to their small toes and fingers and their mothers’ increased hair loss post-partum.
Mothers are advised to brush their hair regularly to prevent loose hair from falling out randomly, keep hair tied back and check baby’s toes and fingers for any signs.