A Wichita, Kansas father is spreading awareness about a rare medical condition that could threaten young children without them ever knowing about it.
On January 21, Scott Walker couldn't get his 19-week-old daughter, Molly, to stop crying. He tried everything he knew to get Molly to calm down. Jess, the baby's mother, saw that Molly was overheated and she removed her socks to cool her down.
At that point, the Walkers noticed a hair tied around a toe on Molly's right foot. The hair became so tight that it was cutting circulation around the toe.
"I was pretty freaked out," he told ABC News.
Luckily, Jess is a nurse. She used what Scott called her "medical emergency superpowers" and removed the hair with tweezers and a magnifying glass.
The hair cut inside Molly's skin, but "it could have been worse had it gone much longer untreated, or if the hair wasn't accessible," Scott wrote in a Facebook post. "The doctor told me, for future reference, to always check the toes if the baby is inconsolable."
Walker posted the story on Facebook as an FYI to parents. The photo went viral.
While Scott didn't know it at the time, Molly was suffering from a condition known as a hair tourniquet. Most cases occur in young children.
Dr. Timothy Lepore, a Massachusetts surgeon, discussed the hair tourniquet in Island Practice, a 2013 book by New York Times writer Pam Bullock.
Many cases of hair tourniquet often go unnoticed as infants are unable to verbally communicate pain and socks can cover up the problem. The Walkers did the right thing by removing the hair.
Dr. Lepor recommends that parents should also consult a medical professional if they believe that their child has a hair tourniquet.
"You've got to have a persistent paranoid suspicion whenever you see something that doesn't look right -- like a blue or a red toe," Lepor told NBC News. "And you can't let people blow you off. If your kid's toe is blue there's got to be a reason."
Thanks to the Walkers' quick action, Molly's toe is now healed.
"There's a lot of people who haven't heard about it and we've had a couple of messages of people who saw the post and it happened to them since then and took action to help their kid out before it got worse," Scott told TODAY. "How much more rewarding does it get?"