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Mom's photo of baby's swollen foot sparks awareness of hair tourniquet syndrome

A single strand of hair or thread can cut off a child's circulation.
/ Source: TODAY

A mom in Florida is sharing a warning to other parents after her 4-month-old son nearly lost his toes due to a tangled strand of hair.

Jill Mraidi wrote the PSA in 2017, but the post went viral last month when it was featured on the Pregnancy Guide Instagram page.

"I’m glad the story is getting so much attention,” Mraidi, 46, told TODAY Parents. “I have four kids and I’d never heard of hair tourniquet syndrome.”

Mraidi isn’t alone. Few parents are aware of hair tourniquet syndrome, according Dr. Erica Michiels, associate medical director for the pediatric emergency department at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The condition occurs when a stand of hair or thread wraps around a body part and cuts off circulation.

“I’ve seen little fingers and little toes that have turned black. I've seen hair tourniquets cut right through the skin," Michiels told TODAY Parents. "It can also occur in the genitals. You can get tourniquets around the penis or the clitoris."

Jill Mraidi and her 3-year-old son Qasim.
Jill Mraidi and her 3-year-old son Qasim. Courtesy Jill Mraidi

The most common symptom is a fussy baby, Michiels said. In Mraidi's case, her son Qasim was inconsolable and kept kicking his feet.

"When the Dr told me it was caused by (a) piece of hair, I was in disbelief," Mraidi wrote. "He told me how very lucky we are to catch it so soon because it often results in immediate amputation of the affected appendage."

Michiels noted that mom's hair is usually the culprit.

“Roughly 90% of women will experience increased hair loss after giving birth,” she explained. “And those strands can easily wrapped around these little teeny appendages.”

Tourniquets can be removed at home if they’re loose and visible. Otherwise, Michiels recommends having a physician take a look.

“We often need to use a scalpel and have to confirm that the tourniquet is off and circulation is improving,” she said. “They’re very hard to see and often need magnification.”