Woman loses toenails after having a trendy fish pedicure

Woman loses toenails after having a trendy fish pedicure

A once trendy spa treatment, the fish pedicure, has caused one woman's toenails to fall off, according to a report by JAMA Dermatology. Despite being in good health with no prior history of nail disorders, some of her toenails showed a separation and gradual disappearance of the underlying nail bed. They hit their peak in popularity in the U.S. around a decade ago, but have since been banned in at least 10 states, including NY, largely because of health concerns.

Lipner said she could not reveal where the patient got her fish pedicure to protect her anonymity.

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.

"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.

A few case reports have also directly traced foot infections to these treatments.

Months after her nails stopped growing and fell off, the woman went to visit her dermatologist, who ruled out other known causes of onychomadesis, including major illness or side effects from medications.

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Although a fish pedicure may sound like a toe-tickling unique experience, you could potentially lose your toenails - seriously. Lipner notes that our toenails only grow 1mm a month on average, while an entire nail can take as long as 18 months to be replaced.

Just how the nibbling fish triggered onychomadesis "is unknown", Lipner said, but "it is likely that direct trauma caused by fish biting multiple nail units causes a cessation in nail plate production". Additionally, the fish are sometimes recycled from person to person, and a bacterial outbreak among the fish was reported in a 2011 investigation by the UK's Fish Health Inspectorate.

This is not the first time that fish spas have been known to cause problems as previously, there were reports of infections being spread through fish pedicures too.

One skin expert not involved with the case said the report raises cause for concern. Essentially, the fish in the tub are actually starved so they will feed on your dead skin!

In the JAMA case, Lipner says with no other explanation for what could have caused the problems with the young woman's toenails, the pedicure seems the most likely culprit. It is said to improve blood circulation, stimulate new skin cells and is often used as a medical treatment for conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and warts.

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