Meet the Georgia Toddler with an Untamable Mane

  • Look on the bright side — the boy’ll never have a bad hair day in his life.

To many parents, hearing that their child suffers from a rare, incurable syndrome is the worst nightmare imaginable. But for Katelyn Samples from Georgia, it wasn’t all that bad.

The worst part of it is that telling her child to comb his hair will be completely pointless in the future. After all, the toddle’s wild mane is completely untamable.


Sixteen-month-old Lock Samples — a very appropriate name in hindsight — has an exceedingly rare condition called Uncombable Hair Syndrome, or UHS, for short. It doesn’t really affect him in any negative way, but does make his hair look like one those frizzy ‘dos from the ‘80s.

“We can’t go anywhere without someone making a comment, whether it’s the park or Publix,” Samples told Fox 5 Atlanta.

“People come up to us, they ask to touch it. They’re very curious about his hair,” she added.

We’re sure that gets annoying. But as far as incurable conditions with children go, the Samples got off easy.

Photo of Lock courtesy of Katelyn Samples.

The Poofening

Lock wasn’t always a the wild-haired toddler he is now. According to his mother, when he was born, his hair was just his 3-year-old big brother Shepherd’s.

That is, perfectly normal baby hair. But once lock hit six months of age, things changed.

Lock’s locks started to get increasingly out of control. No matter how much his parents combed and washed it, his hair would always stand up.

Naturally, Samples was a bit mystified by the sudden bizarre development.

“I was going to my mom and asking her, ‘Did I have hair like this?’” she recalled with a chuckle.

The answer, of course, was no. With nothing else to do, Samples let Lock’s hair be.

Condition Confirmed

A few months later, however, she posted a picture of Lock on Instagram. A stranger who’d seen the photo sent Samples a disconcerting message.

They told Samples that Lock might have UHS. And Samples didn’t like the sound of that “syndrome” in the condition’s name.

She did some research on her own, but didn’t really find anything useful. So, she contacted a pediatrician.

“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 said.

And that’s what brought Samples and Lock to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. There, a dermatologist and several other doctors set their minds to figuring out what was going on with Lock.

Samples said the doctors took… Well, samples of Lock’s hair and put it under a special-made microscope. A pathologist confirmed the results — Lock had UHS.

Keep That Brush Away

But, to repeat ourselves, UHS is nothing to worry about. The condition doesn’t affect children’s health in any negative way.

It is ridiculously rare, though. Scientists and doctors have ever encountered only around 100 cases, putting Lock in a very exclusive club.

All UHS does is make the hairs have a peculiar shape.

“The hair strand is like a triangle shape and twisted. Every single individual strand is that way,” Samples explained.

This shape is what causes the hair to stand up in a wild mane. It does, however, also make Lock’s hair very fragile.

As a result, Samples said she can’t use gel or styling products in an attempt to tame it. Even excessive combing could break the hair — not that it’d do any good to comb Lock’s mane anyway.

‘We’re So Proud of It’

There are definite upsides to Lock’s condition, too. To begin with, Samples said it saves a lot of time when getting her kids ready to go out.

“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 laughed.

And although the attention from passersby and strangers can get to be a bit much for Samples, she said Lock enjoys every interaction.

“Even at the doctor’s office, it’s almost like an episode of House. There’s always a lot of doctors in the room, and he just eats it up,” the boy’s mother said.

His hair has even helped Lock make friends.

“Kids are like, ‘That baby has the coolest hair!’ Kids are into it. They love it,” Samples said.

There is a slight chance that Lock’s hair might turn normal as he reaches puberty. But even if it doesn’t, Samples doesn’t care.

“I love it. We’re so proud of it. I think it’s cool to have something that lets you stand out,” she said.

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