Hair Tourniquet Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Several diseases in medical science are particularly related to infants and young children. These diseases commonly affect children of a certain age and normally do not affect adults or when children pass a certain age. Such a disease that most commonly occurs in babies and young children is known as hair tourniquet syndrome. It is a rare condition that mostly occurs in babies and young children and is extremely rare among adults. Today in this article we are going to discuss what hair tourniquet syndrome is, what its symptoms are, what its causes are, and, how it is treated.


What is hair tourniquet syndrome?

Hair wrapped around a baby’s finger

Hair wrapped around a baby’s finger


Hair tourniquet syndrome is a medical condition in which hair, a thread from a blanket, or, a piece of clothing can wrap around a small appendage of a baby’s body causing pain and swelling. In this case, the hair, thread, or, piece of clothing becomes so tightly wrapped around a baby’s appendage that it starts acting like a tourniquet. It can be extremely painful and cause significant swelling and discomfort for the child or infant suffering from it. The most common parts that can be affected due to this syndrome include a baby’s toes, fingers, and, penis. Apart from these parts, genitals, nipples, ear lobes, tongue, or, belly button can also be affected by this syndrome. Hair tourniquet syndrome can be fatal as it can disrupt the blood supply to the baby’s appendage. If left untreated for long periods, it can cause tissue death or bone erosion, and can also lead to amputation. For this reason, it is highly significant to treat hair tourniquet syndrome as soon as possible to avoid any of these complications.


What are the causes of hair tourniquet syndrome?

The most common cause of hair tourniquet syndrome is postpartum hair loss. As most birthing parents experience excessive hair loss after giving birth, it increases the chances of your baby being exposed to loose hair that can wrap around the baby’s appendage and cause swelling and pain. Also, if wet hair wraps around the babies’ appendages, these can dry out with time and constrict and tighten around the babies’ appendage. Apart from this, any thread from a blanket or clothing can also cause this condition. Due to the extremely thin size of human hair, it becomes extremely difficult to know that any hair is wrapped around the baby’s appendage.

Causes of hair tourniquet syndrome

Causes of hair tourniquet syndrome


What are the symptoms of hair tourniquet syndrome?

As hair tourniquet syndrome mostly occurs in infants and young children, it often becomes difficult to understand the symptoms. Most common symptoms that a baby suffering from hair tourniquet syndrome shows are excessive crying due to pain and irritability. In this case, you should always check your babies’ body parts to look for any kind of redness or swelling. Any area that has hair or thread wrapped around it will be tender and cause discomfort. You may also notice a groove within the area. In more serious cases this groove can be filled with fluid and may also have a foul smell.


What is the treatment for hair tourniquet syndrome?

The first step in the treatment of hair tourniquet syndrome is to diagnose it. This will be done by your healthcare provider by closely examining the babies’ appendages and looking for signs of hair tourniquet syndrome. Your healthcare provider may also ask about the symptoms your baby has been showing.

After diagnosing that the baby is suffering from hair tourniquet syndrome, the next step is to remove the hair tourniquet as soon as possible to reduce the discomfort, pain, and, swelling. The method used for hair removal from a baby’s appendage depends on the severity of the symptoms the baby is showing. Some methods that are used to remove a hair tourniquet include unwrapping, cutting, or, dissolving the hair. Hair removal creams can be used to dissolve hair causing the syndrome and are one of the most effective methods to treat hair tourniquet syndrome. However, this method does not work if the syndrome is caused by a piece of clothing or thread instead of hair. The cream when applied will dissolve the hair within 10 minutes releasing the baby’s appendage and causing a reduction in the discomfort and pain.

In the cases where a hair removal cream cannot be used, the healthcare provider can unwind the hair or thread from the baby’s appendage or cut the hair or thread directly. For this purpose, a blunt probe is placed between the babies’ skin and thread or hair to protect the skin and then the hair or thread is cut with the help of a sharp blade or a pair of scissors.

In extremely rare and severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the hair or thread causing the syndrome. It happens when the hair or thread causing hair tourniquet syndrome is so deeply embedded in the baby’s skin that it cannot be dissolved or cut. During the surgery, the child is given anesthesia and an incision is made to remove the hair or thread.

Treatment of hair tourniquet syndrome

Treatment of hair tourniquet syndrome


How to prevent hair tourniquet syndrome?

The only way to prevent hair tourniquet syndrome is to take extreme care of your baby and make sure that no hair or thread is present on their body that can get wrapped and cause hair tourniquet syndrome. You should also brush your hair often so that it may not fall near your baby. You should also tie your hair while handling and taking care of your baby.



Hair tourniquet syndrome is a serious medical condition occurring mostly in babies and young children. In this syndrome, hair or a piece of thread or clothing wraps so tightly around a baby’s appendage or another body part that it starts to cause pain and swelling. If left untreated, it can lead to severe complications including amputation. This can be avoided by keeping regular care and making sure that no hair and threads and wrapped around your babies’ body parts. If the condition occurs, you should immediately contact your healthcare provider who can remove the hair or thread causing the condition and the swelling will start to reduce within ten minutes.

uzma e1714761913269

PhD Scholar (Pharmaceutics), MPhil (Pharmaceutics), Pharm D, B. Sc.

Uzma Zafar is a dedicated and highly motivated pharmaceutical professional currently pursuing her PhD in Pharmaceutics at the Punjab University College of Pharmacy, University of the Punjab. With a comprehensive academic and research background, Uzma has consistently excelled in her studies, securing first division throughout her educational journey.

Uzma’s passion for the pharmaceutical field is evident from her active engagement during her Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) program, where she not only mastered industrial techniques and clinical case studies but also delved into marketing strategies and management skills.

Throughout her career, Uzma has actively contributed to the pharmaceutical sciences, with specific research on suspension formulation and Hepatitis C risk factors and side effects. Additionally, Uzma has lent her expertise to review and fact-check articles for the Health Supply 770 blog, ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the information presented.

As she continues her PhD, expected to complete in 2025, Uzma is eager to contribute further to the field by combining her deep knowledge of pharmaceutics with real-world applications to meet global professional standards and challenges.