Lock Samples is only 3-year-old but his hair is already turning heads.
“We can’t go anywhere without someone making a comment, whether it’s the park or Publix,” his mother, Katelyn Samples says. “People come up to us, they ask to touch it. They’re very curious about his hair.”
Lock Samples was born with typical baby hair, much like his older brother Shepherd, who is 3-years-old. But, when he was about 6-months-old, Katelyn said that Lock’s locks started to take off.
“I was going to my mom and asking her, ‘Did I have hair like this,” she says, laughing.
So when they tried to wash 3-year-old Lock’s hair, it was difficult to get it wet.
“Then, as soon as we would dry it, it would not lay flat, even if we brushed it,” she says. “As soon as it dries, it pops back up.”
However, the Samples didn’t know why 3-year-old Lock’s hair was doing this.
“And, then a stranger messaged me on Instagram,” Katelyn Samples says. And that same stranger informed her that Lock might have a kind of one-in-a-million heredity condition, known as “uncombable hair syndrome.”
“I got nervous because I’d never heard of it before,” Samples says. She then googled it and quickly called her pediatrician.
“And, they were like, ‘We know Lock, and we know his hair, but we can’t really help you here, so we’re going to send you to directly to a specialist,'” Samples remembers.
The family then ended up Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
“We went into the dermatologist’s office and several other doctors came in,” his mom remembers. “They took pictures of his hair, and they took samples of his hair.”
After looking at Lock’s hair under a special microscope, a pathologist confirmed he has one of about 100 known cases of uncombable hair syndrome.
“The hair strand is like a triangle shape and twisted,” Katelyn Samples says. “Every single individual strand is that way.”
However, the family learned that the syndrome does not affect Lock’s health and kids with it usually have fine, light-colored, dandelion-like hair. His mother says his hair is so fragile she cannot use gel or styling products on it without risking breakage. However, there are some benefits of this type of hair.
“The older one, we have to wrangle him down to get ready and do his hair and brush his teeth, but Locklan wakes up ready to roll,” she says.
And while the family gets a lot of comments, most of them are kind but not always.
“We were at Waffle House on Thanksgiving and an older woman looked at us and said, ‘Oh, my gosh, that baby wakes up every day with a bad hair day,'”she says. “But kids are like, ‘That baby has the coolest hair!’ Kids are into it. They love it.”
Lock Samples even has his own Instagram account, @uncombable_locks, with about 3,100 followers. Katelyn has been touched by the response to his photos.
“It’s the amount of parents who’ve reached out to me, saying, ‘Thank you for sharing your story. I thought my child was the only one to have hair like this,'” she says.
There is a possibility that Lock Samples will outgrow the syndrome once he reaches puberty. However, Katelyn says they are okay with that.
“I love it,” she says. “We’re so proud of it. I think it’s cool to have something that lets you stand out. We really consider it a blessing.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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