Doctors use hair removal cream to save baby’s toes

Parents learn pretty quickly to be prepared for whatever predicament children might face, from having a ready supply of pain relief in the fridge to stocking nappy bags with spare clothes and bandaids. Now one Sydney mum wants us to add another essential item to the list after her daughter almost lost three toes – hair removal cream.

Mother-of-three Kristina Clarke thought she had experienced it all with her first two children, Talea, 18, and Kohdi, 6, until last week when she was changing five-month-old Bryleigh’s nappy.

“I noticed her flinching when I touched her little foot,” Kristina tells Babyology.

“I pulled her sock off and noticed that her toes were purple.”


Kristina says she could see hair tangled around three of Bryleigh’s tiny toes which was restricting blood circulation, particularly to the middle toe.

“I screamed to my husband Matthew to come and hold her while I grabbed her baby toenail clippers – the first thing I thought of to cut it off,” Kristina says.

“I managed to cut a tiny bit off that seem to be wrapped between two of them, but as I did this, I must of pulled it hard as it started to rip through the skin and made her start to bleed.”

Kristina says she began to panic. The delicate task of removing the hair was made so much harder given Bryleigh is quite tiny for her age, having been born at just 32 weeks.

“I started shaking and crying, the only thought going through my head was that if I couldn’t get this hair off, she would lose her toe,” she says.


Bryleigh was taken to Blacktown Hospital, where a doctor used a magnifying glass to try and remove the hair.

“She managed to get quite a bit off straight away, and we could see the tension had been relieved a bit,” Kristina says.

But when a few hours had passed and the middle toe hadn’t improved, Bryleigh was transferred to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead where an orthopaedic surgeon was waiting in case the hair needed to be surgically removed.

Kristina says as soon as they arrived at Westmead a doctor applied hair removal cream to the toes.

“I could not believe it. We were shocked, amazed and scared all at once as within three minutes of application, there was an immediate improvement in the colour of her middle toe,” she says.


While hair removal cream will now be included in Kristina’s list of in-case-of-emergency essentials, she says the whole ordeal also taught her to trust her instincts and not be afraid to ask for help.

“You don’t have to be a rock all the time. If you are scared or worried, let someone know and it is never the wrong decision to take a baby to hospital if you a worried about an injury or illness,” she says.

She praised both hospitals for the great care they gave her daughter.

Dr Jason Hort, medical director of emergencies at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, says parents who notice a swollen or red digit on their child should have a doctor check it, even if they think they have removed any hair or cotton that may have been tangled around it.

“Hair removal cream can be successful but not always,” Dr Hort tells Babyology.

“It’s not just hair that can do this, it could be thread from baby clothes or some sort of hidden material.”

“That’s why we always check over the whole baby if they present with irritability because it can happen and not be noticed by parents,” Dr Hort says.

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