Hair Tourniquet Syndrome is apparently a thing. And Madison has first-hand (first-toe?) experience with it. Here’s the somewhat ridiculous story.
I gave Madison a bath and as I pulled her out of the tub I noticed one of her toes looked red. I dried her off, got her diaper on and inspected a little further. I could see there was a piece of hair that had wound itself really tightly around her middle toe, like so:
I took her over to Dallas, and we started trying to pull off the offending hair. At first there were strands hanging off so I tried to unwind them but before too long the strands had broken off and her toe was still in a tourniquet. Uh oh.
We were at a loss as to how to proceed. We Googled “how to remove a hair from a baby’s toe” and found out this kind of thing actually happens on a somewhat regular basis. However, we weren’t given any good ideas as to how to remove the hair. We tried tweezers. We tried maneuvering a needle under the hair to rip it. No luck.
By this time Madison was not a happy camper. I called our pediatrician’s office. Closed. I called a nurse hotline. The nurse said we should take Madison to the ER. Right away. I asked if we could try an urgent care clinic first and she said that would be fine.
So off we went.
We got to the urgent care center. The receptionist asked us why we were there. Do you know how ridiculous it feels to go to the doctor for a strand of hair? And then how ridiculous it feels to have to explain that to the receptionist…and then the nurse…and finally the doctor?
Answer: It feels very ridiculous. And one or more of the above persons will give you strange looks and shake their heads in disbelief.
The doctor took a look and tried to remove the hair a couple of different ways. Madison protested. At that point I think he realized this was actually a problem that would be a little trickier to resolve.
He put some numbing stuff on her toe. Then the nurse and I held Madison down while he donned magnifying glasses and tiny, sharp tools and got to work. After a few minutes he held up his hands in surrender and said, “I can’t get it. You’ve got to go to the ER.”
He said her toe was getting swollen which makes it hard to get at the hair and the hair was buried in her skin so there was no good way for him to get under the hair to cut it off.
So, off to the ER we went. Again, I have to explain to everyone why we’re there. Again I felt like they were thinking, “Why are you here? A hair? A piece of hair? Do you not realize this is the emergency room, keyword EMERGENCY?”
A nurse looked at it. He tried to remove the hair. Couldn’t.
A physician’s assistant came by. He tried to remove the hair. Couldn’t.
They both looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and said, “Huh. We’ve got to get the doctor.”
The doctor came down with a flurry of people. He took a look. He tried to remove the hair. Couldn’t.
While I wasn’t happy that this hair had been so stubborn to remove, it did make me feel vindicated that this stupid hair did actually need a real professional to remove and it wasn’t something we could have done ourselves.
The doctor then went through our options.
#1 – Knock Madison out and remove the hair.
#2 – Give her numbing shots in her toe and then cut the hair out with a scalpel.
#3 – Give her nothing to numb her toe and he would do his best to cut the hair out quickly with a scalpel.
The #1 option seemed a little extreme and the #3 option seemed a little barbaric so I opted for #2.
The doctor shot her toe up with numbing juice. Madison screeeeeeeamed her little heart out. Poor baby. Then we had to wait a little while for her toe to get nice and numb. During that time Madison fell asleep only to be woken up moments later for the torture to resume.
Three of us held her down while the doctor started slicing. He made one incision on each side of her toe. He called over to the people who were documenting the procedure and nonchalantly stated, “One incision on either side of the toe to the bone.”
TO THE BONE?! Someone give me smelling salts, I’m about to faint.
The doctor saw my face and said, “Don’t worry. The bone is right there. It doesn’t take much to cut to the bone.” If you say so, doc. Still sounds gross. And painful.
The doctor said he sliced both sides because he couldn’t see the hair embedded in her toe. Cutting both sides of her toe would release the tourniquet and the hair either will (or did) fall off.
Then they bandaged her up as if they had cut her entire foot off:
And then we were discharged.
I am still astonished that a piece of hair can get so tightly wound around one toe like that. Madison is her usual happy self today. Her toe looks better in that it’s no longer in a tourniquet but we can still see the line where the hair was and of course she has the cuts on the sides of her toe (to the bone).
At least she still has a toe, right?
And does this mean I should probably be vacuuming more often…?