Woman loses toenails after fish pedicure

Ebony Scott
July 5, 2018

The report, published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, describes a woman in her 20s who is believed to have contracted an infection called onychomadesis from a fish pedicure.

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.

It's an unusual beauty treatment meant to rejuvenate the skin on your foot, but a medical professional is warning the public to steer away from "fish pedicures" after a woman lost her toenails from the procedure. At first the woman thought she might have onychomadesis, a condition known for having similar symptoms; however, a visit to a dermatologist, ruled that out, Gizmodo reported.

"I do not recommend fish pedicures for any medical or aesthetic objective", Lipner said.

Dr. Shari R. Lipner, an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine, wrote a report on the young woman's case in JAMA Dermatology. She had no history of toenail problems.

This phenomenon, known to doctors as onychomadesis, usually results in the nail falling off long after an initial event (such as an injury) arrests nail growth.

Lipner diagnosed onychomadesis - a not-uncommon condition that's most often linked to underlying major illness or certain medications.

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Here's hoping she doesn't resort to another fish pedicure to get her feet summer-ready. Spas can also mistake the toothy chinchin fish, which draws blood, for the doctor fish, further increasing the risk of infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The popularity of fish pedicures peaked about 10 years ago, but they are still trendy today, the report said.

But while there's no way to know for sure what caused the patient's toenail issues, there have been some concerns about fish pedicures in the past.

"Unfortunately the water is sometimes contaminated with bacteria and other pathogens and the fish themselves can do more damage than good", Day said. According to the CDC, more than 10 USA states have banned fish pedicures entirely.

Lipner noticed that several of the woman's toenails had started separating from the nail beds. In 2011, the Vancouver Island Health Authority also banned it, saying that there were bacterial risks because the fish could not be sterilized.

Indeed, in 2012, researchers in the United Kingdom intercepted shipments of Garra rufa fish bound for U.K. spas and tested them for bacteria. "Therefore, we will have to wait quite a while to see the outcome", she said.

Other reports by GizPress

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