Hair tourniquet syndrome

Postpartum hair loss can not only make a mess of a mother's appearance and bathroom counters, but can cause the loss of her child's extremities if she's not careful.

Hair tourniquet syndrome occurs when a hair becomes wrapped around a child's appendage so tightly as to cut off circulation. Toes, fingers or genitals can be affected. The syndrome happens most often in the postnatal period when mothers experience increased hair loss. Occasionally a thread or fibre is the culprit.

A typical presentation is a screaming baby with no obvious cause for complaint. Upon closer inspection, redness, tenderness and swelling of the affected area - most commonly the middle finger or toe - may be noted. Often the hair itself is no longer visible due to the swollen tissues around it, making it difficult to unwind or cut.

Untreated, hair tourniquet syndrome can cause progressive swelling, ischemia (lack of oxygen) and tissue necrosis (death), and can cause autoamputation of the strangulated structure.

Maybe there's a legitimate reason for a mom haircut after all.