Toe-tally Unseen

As parents we are all super aware of dangers that may impact on our children. We frantically watch them around sharp corners, hard floors, animals, food, small objects, anything that is too big, too small, too hot, too sharp, and too noisy. But did you ever worry about hair or socks?

Case Study

Your six month old is irritable, restless and off his food. You think maybe its teething – half an hour later, one dose of Panadol, a teething ring and a dose of Brauers later, the same thing is still happening.

So you take bub’s temperature – 36C. Perfectly normal. Your bubba has had all his breast milk / bottles, a decent amount of solids, lots of wet nappies and everything else has been normal.  So you think we will go for a walk, after half an hour of grizzling bub nods off in the pram and you return home. An hour later your baby is awake and irritable again.

So now we are two hours down the road of a grizzling and irritable baby. We have all been there; we all know what it’s like. But what do you do next?

Some mothers would battle it out at home, call their other half and grizzle at them, trial a hot bath, give some Neurofen. There is no wrong answer. But the mother in this story took her little girl to her local emergency department.

After a twenty minute trip to the emergency department, a half an hour wait and then a further two hours of tests and questions, everyone was stumped.

This particular little girl was now screaming, arching and appeared very distressed. Then she vomited. A wonderful toe saving typical baby projectile vomit. In the resulting clean up, mum removed her little girls clothing, changed her outfit and then pulled off her little socks.

This is what she found –

This little girl had one of her mother’s hairs twisted around her little toe.  It is common after pregnancy for mothers to shed their luscious pregnancy manes, and with little people crawling around on the floor, hair around toes is not uncommon. Lord knows I have pulled many bits of fluff / lint from in between my little mans toes.

In this case, this hair was so tight it was cutting off circulation to the digit and as a result this little girl needed sedation to have the hair removed from her skin. She went home with three days of antibiotics to prevent infection to the open wound, and she was one of the lucky ones.

Had her mother not taken her to the emergency department and instead entertained her for the rest of the afternoon and put her to bed, her story would have been very different. When you compromise the blood flow to a part of the body, tissue death occurs. This results in death of the digit and surgical removal.

This can happen with hair, threads and anything else that your baby can twist around toes or fingers. So next time your baby is grizzly and you have tried everything, please check their tiny toes, because you never know what you may find!



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. caspette
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 21:35:34

    How scary and something so simple! I have heard of something similar with a loose thread from a sock wrapping around the baby’s toe.

    I am a big believer in better safe then sorry, so if your baby is acting abnormally for him/her then you should get your ass to a doctor.

    But that is just me. Plus I am lucky my little guy is not a crier so any crying is abnormal for him and I would not write it off so easily/quickly.


  2. catoed
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 09:17:44

    I totally agree, if i am at all concerned i take my little man to the GP, but working in a busy hospital has really opened my eyes to the things parents bring children in for. Most of which could be solved by having a quick look at your child. I really do think there is a mother instinct and if yours is going off giving your baby a once over, a feed, a back rub and a cuddle will solve 9/10 problems, but if that fails, straight to a professional! We recently had a 3month old brought into the emergency department as he was unsettled for 45 minutes. At triage the nurse gave his little back a rub and he did a huge burp, five minutes later he was asleep in the waiting room. A good outcome for all!


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