Woman loses toenails after fish pedicure

After a young woman's toenails started to separate from her toes a doctor finally zeroed in on the reason a fish pedicure according to a report published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Dermatology

Earlier this year, a young woman from NY came to the dermatologists at Weill Cornell Medicine hospital because six of her toenails had begun detaching from her foot for no apparent reason six months prior.

The report's author said the woman had no other medical history that could be linked to her condition.

Though it does not meet the legal definition of a pedicure, the practice of sticking your feet into a tub filled with diminutive omnivorous fish from the species Garra rufa has been a popular spa service worldwide for more than a decade, according to Dr Lipner. The toothless carp fish - which are plant eaters - voraciously feast on dead human skin.

However, routine use of the fish for pedicures is another matter, she said, and may often cause more harm than good. A woman's toenails stopped growing after she received a fish pedicure, a study claims.

"While the mechanism of action is not entirely clear, it is likely due to the fish traumatising the nail matrix", Sheri Lipner, an assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University's Weill Cornell Medicine and the woman's treating doctor, told Gizmodo via email. However, people with onychomadesis usually experience spontaneous regrowth of their nail within 12 weeks, according to a 2017 report in the journal Cutis.

"This is not uncommon in women with a Greek foot ... who wear high heels and pinpointed shoes", Tosti said, referring to feet whose second toes are longer than the first, like Greek statues.

Fish pedicures involve having small fish nibble at your feet while they're soaked in a tub of warm or room temperature water.

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"Unfortunately the water is sometimes contaminated with bacteria and other pathogens and the fish themselves can do more damage than good", Day said.

This is the first reported case of a fish pedicure causing the toenails to fall off, so it's not necessarily common.

Lipner noticed that several of the woman's toenails had started separating from the nail beds. Lipner was not able to identify the fish species involved in this case. "In addition to onychomadesis, there are also serious infections associated with fish pedicures".

For the sake of protecting her patient's anonymity, Lipner can't reveal where the woman got her pedicure.

At least 10 states in the USA have banned the treatment because of its potential health hazards, the CDC said, though 2011 Health Protection Agency guidelines considered the risk of bacterial infection from fish spas to be "very low" but not completely avoidable.

In the United Kingdom, an investigation was conducted by the UK's Fish Health Inspectorate discovered bacteria outbreak among the fish used in these spas.

"We will have to wait quite a while to see the outcome", she said.

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