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Babies and Hair Tourniquets

The Dangerous Yet Common Thing That Could Be Happening in Your Baby's Sock

Of all the things you worry about for your kids, you've likely never considered this one.

A Kansas-area dad was out to lunch with his family when his daughter Molly was "cranky and screaming — nothing out of the ordinary." Still, the little girl was overheating, so Scott Walker and his wife removed her socks to cool her down. That's when they noticed her toe.

She'd had what is known as a hair tourniquet, in which a hair or thread becomes spontaneously tied around a toe or finger and tightens with wriggling. If wound tight enough, it can pierce the skin and potentially cut off all blood circulation to the digit.

"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," Walker said in a Facebook post that showed a startling photo taken 45 minutes after the hair was removed from around her second-largest toe. "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."

Their family doctor told Molly's parents that the condition wasn't all that uncommon with babies and toddlers and reminded them "to always check the toes if the baby is inconsolable."

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