A dad in Kansas is sharing a scary photo of his baby's foot to warn other parents against a dangerous condition that they may not be aware of.
In September, Scott and Jessica Walker welcomed Molly into their family, which includes 3-year-old sister Mya, he told BuzzFeed News.
Walker said that both his daughters were born seven weeks early, and Molly faced complications after her birth.
After three weeks in the hospital, Molly came home and is now doing well at almost 5 months old.
"Since being home, both girls are as happy and healthy as we could have ever hoped," Walker said.
Recently, the family was out to lunch when Molly became "very upset," Walker said. The parents tried the "standard checklist" to try and calm her, but nothing was working.
Walker said they had a gut feeling that something was wrong.
"Molly has been battling some colic and reflux issues for the past couple months, so being agitated is nothing unordinary, for her, but something seemed 'off' this time," he said.
Walker's wife noticed Molly seemed to be overheating, so she took off the baby's socks. Then, she noticed something strange on her baby's toe.
The baby had wrapped a piece of hair around her toe so tightly, it had cut into her skin. Doctors call the phenomenon "toe-tourniquet syndrome" or a "hair tourniquet."
Dr. Julie L. Gallombardo, a clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at New York University Langone Medical Center, told BuzzFeed News the condition is common and can be very serious if not immediately addressed.
Gallombardo said children can lose a finger or toe if not addressed in time, adding that she has treated patients who have had severe infections and needed surgery because of the condition.
"It is very painful, and it needs to be dealt with emergently," she said.
The condition occurs when a hair becomes trapped near a baby's digit, such as in a sock, and somehow becomes wound tightly around it, Gallombardo said. It can happen on fingers and toes, and even on genitals, she added.
The condition is one of the causes of inconsolable crying in babies that can't be helped by soothing methods.
In Molly's case, her mom quickly removed the hair from her toe with a magnifying glass and tweezers. Walker said the baby's foot is healed, but he realized the situation could have been much worse.
Walker decided to share the story on Facebook, hoping to inform some of his other new parent friends of what they had learned. His story has since been shared more than 16,000 times.
Walker said he never expected to get so much attention, but he is happy to share his knowledge with others.
"I certainly never imagined the chain reaction that followed, but it's great to know Molly's story is bringing so much awareness to the parenting community," he said.
Walker added that Molly is now "doing great."
"She never stopped being her normal happy self," he said.
Parents can learn from the family's story by checking their child's digits for hairs if they are crying for no apparent reason because the condition can pop up out of nowhere, Gallombardo said.
"It just happens," she said. "It's kind of crazy."