A baby nearly lost his toes when his mother’s HAIR cut off circulation

Baby nearly lost four toes when a strand of his mother’s HAIR wrapped around them and cut off the circulation for 14 hours

  • Alex Upton, 26, had to use tweezers to remove the hair from her son’s toes 
  • The red, swollen toes had been constricted by the hair for hours overnight
  • Mrs Upton, from Paignton, said parents should be clearly warned about the risk
  • She said her son could have needed his toes amputated if she hadn’t noticed 

A 10-week-old boy almost lost four toes when a single strand of his mother’s hair became wrapped around them for 14 hours and cut off the circulation.

Alex Upton, 26, has warned other parents of the danger of hair tourniquet syndrome, after her son Ezra was left in agony.

Mrs Upton said she discovered something was seriously wrong when she was woken by the crying infant and he refused milk.

After spotting his red, swollen toes, she discovered a piece of her own light brown hair, which she believes had been wrapped around them for ’12 to 14 hours’.

When Alex Upton, 26, woke up one morning and heard her 10-week-old son, Ezra, crying, she found a strand of her hair had been wrapped around his toes overnight and cut off the circulation, causing them to become red and swollen

Mrs Upton said her son (pictured, with herself and his sister Charley) could have needed his toes amputating if she hadn’t noticed the hair cutting off the circulation on his foot

A teaching assistant, from Paignton, Devon, Mrs Upton said: ‘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.’

Describing how she discovered the situation, she said: ‘Ezra wasn’t himself in the morning.

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‘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.’

Four of the toes on his left foot were red and swollen due to the strand of hair cutting off blood flow.

Mrs Upton added: ‘I pulled at the hair and realised how tightly it’d wrapped around his toes. 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. His toes are so small that it was hard to get under the piece of hair.’

The hair was wrapped so tightly Mrs Upton couldn’t get it off her son’s second toe with her fingers, and had to use tweezers to get underneath it and pull it off

Mrs Upton made a panicked call to her husband Ben, 29, (Pictured with Mrs Upton, Ezra and their daughter Charley) and thought she might have to take her son to hospital until she managed to get the hair off by herself

While trying to free Ezra’s toes, Mrs Upton said she made a panicked call to her husband Ben, 29.


Hair tourniquet syndrome is a medical condition where a hair or thread becomes tightly tied to a finger, toe or genitals, cutting off circulation and potentially leading to infection and amputation.

The problem usually affects young babies and is most common when mothers are shedding hair post-pregnancy. 

The hair can become trapped in blankets, socks or baby-grows and wrap around the appendage.

The hair is often so thin it can be easily missed by parents – and doctors.  

It is identified with magnification and cut away usually with small scissors. 

Sometimes surgery is required to remove the ligature. Antibiotics may be prescribed for any infection. 

She added: ‘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 pulled 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.

‘I’ll certainly be checking everything for hair from now on. I felt awful. I just can’t believe midwives or doctors don’t warn you of the risk when you have a baby.’

Mrs Upton, who is currently on maternity leave with Ezra, has urged other parents to stay vigilant when bathing or dressing their children.

She said: ‘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.

‘Luckily, Ezra’s okay now and back to his normal self.’

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.

Mothers are advised to brush their hair regularly to prevent loose hair from falling out randomly, keep hair tied back and check their baby’s toes and fingers.

Mrs Upton took Ezra to see a doctor after the ordeal to make sure his foot was ok, and was given antibacterial cream to keep the toes clean while they healed

Mrs Upton, who is on maternity leave from her job as a teaching assistant, has urged other parents to watch out for stray hairs or threads from clothes when bathing or dressing their children

Mrs Upton said she didn’t notice the hair was wrapped around her son’s foot until he started crying in the morning and wouldn’t feed, but she added: ‘Luckily, Ezra’s okay now and back to his normal self’

After the hair was removed, Ezra’s foot recovered back to normal but was left with marks from the ordeal (Pictured: his foot five days later)

In a previous case of hair tourniquet syndrome, a baby girl had to have plastic surgery to repair the damage caused.

In April this year, Gemma Fraser, 35, from Edinburgh, told how a strand of her hair had bound two of her daughter Orla’s toes together, gradually becoming tighter.

Orla, three months-old at the time of the incident in June 2017, had to undergo plastic surgery on one of the toes five months later because the skin would not heal.

Cass McNamara, a midwife turned author and speaker on maternity issues, called on parents to check their babies every day for entwined hair.

She said at the time: ‘People should be made aware, to check the baby every day. Hair is incredibly strong and can act like fishing wire. This has led to babies having toes and fingers amputated. It can also affect the penis.

‘If your baby is more fractious than usual, give him or her a good once over.

‘If you can see a hair, and it’s easy to get off, take it off, but if it’s really tight get to an A&E department as soon as possible.

‘It’s not just hair. The tourniquet can also be something like a strand from a wool blanket, or a loose piece of thread from socks or a babygrow.’ 

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