Woman Loses Toenails After Fish Pedicure

Woman Loses Toenails After Fish Pedicure

A woman reportedly lost her toenails after getting a fish pedicure. Fish pedicures involve a person placing their feet in a warm tub of water while having small fish nibble on them.

A case report in the journal JAMA Dermatology describes how an unnamed woman in her 20s contracted onychomadesis from the pedicure - which causes nails to shred. The woman said she had no history of any pain or trauma to her toes, no nail disorders or recent illnesses, and hadn't started any new medications.

The study marks the first fish-related diagnosis of onychomadesis, but the pedicure poses more podiatric health risks, Lipner said.

When a young USA woman began losing her toenails, her doctors were baffled.

Writing in the journal JAMA Dermatology, she explained that the freakish beauty ritual first gained traction after people noticed that wild populations of the toothless fish - a member of the carp family native to Turkey - liked to nibble on human skin, and for whatever reason, preferred munching on unsightly psoriasis plaques more than normal tissue.

"While the mechanism of action is not entirely clear, it is likely due to the fish traumatizing the nail matrix", Sheri Lipner, an assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University's Weill Cornell Medicine and the woman's doctor, told the website. He explained that people who have feet where their second toes are longer than their first toe, called a Greek foot, may have nail loss when wearing high heels and pointed shoes.

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That raises the odds for infections transmitted between customers, and "several bacteria capable of causing disease in humans were isolated in batches of Garra rufa and waters from 24 fish spas", she 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. The most likely culprit, then, was the fish pedicure. Lipner was not able to identify the fish species involved in this case.

She couldn't divulge where her patient got the procedure in order to protect her anonymity but noted the treatments are popular in China.

Several spas in the US and Canada offer fish pedicures but they are controversial. 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. "In addition to onychomadesis, there are also serious infections associated with fish pedicures". According to the CDC, more than 10 US states have banned fish pedicures entirely.

"We did have some concerns about the welfare of these animals being transported around the world, often by people with limited experience", he said.

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