A BABY nearly lost the end of his penis after stray hairs from his mum cut off circulation.

Hair tourniquet syndrome resulted in strangulation of the penis.

The relatively rare condition is most common in babies and toddlers with mums suffering from postpartum hair loss.

The 11-month-old was brought to a hospital in Pakistan after his father noticed his son's penis was looking "pale".

Doctors discovered a hair tourniquet wrapped tightly around the shaft of the penis, leaving the tip hanging on by a thread of skin.

The hair had also sliced through the urethra – meaning the baby could not urinate properly.

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Writing in Urology Case Reports, doctors detailed how they fixed the boy's penis.

They de-gloved the penis mid-shaft and pulled the skin up to cover the scarred tissue.

The medics also inserted a catheter so that baby could pass urine.

By the six month follow-up appointment the baby had recovered.

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His penis was considered "satisfactory" both cosmetically and functionally, doctors said.

In serious cases – or if left untreated – hair tourniquet syndrome can lead to deadly infections, skin death and bone erosion.

"Well-timed intervention can prevent complications and lifelong unhappiness," doctors wrote.

However, "vague" symptoms can "deceive" experienced doctors, meaning the condition can take a while to diagnose.

Medics should be on the lookout for "hourglass deformities" to the penis, as well as "sharp" breaks in the skin.

Last year, a 57-year-old man nearly lost the tip of his penis after some hair got caught around it.

How to keep your child safe

Parents must regularly check their child's extremities – including fingers and toes – for hair tourniquets.

Nikki Jurcutz, first aid expert from the Tiny Hearts Foundation, said: "If your little one is crying and not able to settle, don’t forget to check for this."

The most obvious symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Sudden crying without any noticeable reason
  • Not able to settle
  • Swelling
  • Redness or other discolouration of the body part
  • Tight line around the body part


The NHS states that treatment begins with recognising the issue.

Experts say that extreme close examination may be needed to find the hair, and that you might need to use a magnifying glass or a bright light.

In order to treat the tourniquet, first aider Nikki explained that you can apply a small amount of hair removal cream for 10 minutes.

However, she said you can only do this as long as the skin around the area is still intact.

You should then rinse the area with warm water.

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If the hair remains wrapped or the skin is broken or bleeding, then you should take your little one to the nearest emergency department, she said.

What is penile hair tourniquet syndrome?

Penile hair tourniquet syndrome is when hair gets wrapped around the penis, most commonly seen in young boys.

In teens and adults, sexual exploration often leads to penile strangulation as well as ill mental health.

Penile strangulation can be classified under five grades, which are:

  • Grade 1: Swelling.
  • Grade 2: Trauma to the skin, decreased sensation.
  • Grade 3: Same as above but with injury to the urethra.
  • Grade 4: “Division of corpus spongiosum” (spongy tissue at the tip of the penis) leading to a urinary fistula (opening in the urinary tract). 
  • Grade 5: Gangrene, necrosis, or complete amputation of the penis.

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