Hair tourniquet and other narrow constricting bands: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment
- Eric Hoppa, MD
Eric Hoppa, MD
- Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
- University of Connecticut School of Medicine
- Section Editor
- Anne M Stack, MD
Anne M Stack, MD
- Section Editor — Pediatric Procedures
- Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics
- Harvard Medical School
- Deputy Editor
- James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH
- Senior Deputy Editor — UpToDate
- Deputy Editor — Adult and Pediatric Emergency Medicine
- Deputy Editor — Primary Care Sports Medicine (Adolescents and Adults)
- Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine/Traumatology
- University of Connecticut School of Medicine
This topic discusses the clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and management of hair tourniquets and also strangulation of digits or external genitalia by thread or other narrow constricting bands.
Hair tourniquet or hair-thread tourniquet syndrome describes swelling or ischemia of an appendage (eg, toe, finger, or genitalia) caused by a tightly wound hair or thread in a young infant, although it may rarely occur in older patients . (See 'Etiology' below and 'Epidemiology' below.)
For this topic, the discussion of hair tourniquets has been expanded to include intentionally applied tourniquets that may consist of materials other than hair or thread.
Narrow constriction of the digit or external genitalia decreases lymphatic and venous drainage, which results in pain, swelling, and edema. If not recognized in a timely fashion, ischemia occurs. With progressive swelling, the constricting agent may become embedded in the soft tissue or cut through the skin and underlying tissues. If not promptly removed, then permanent tissue necrosis can develop.
The source of the tourniquet varies by the site of constriction:
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- CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS
- Physical examination
- DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS
- Indications for specialty consultation
- Superficial tourniquet
- - Hair tourniquet
- - Thread or other constricting band
- Deeply embedded tourniquet
- AFTERCARE AND FOLLOW-UP
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS