Young Woman Loses Her Toenails After Getting A Fish Pedicure

A woman reportedly lost her toenails after getting a fish pedicure

A dermatologist who treated the woman says the tiny "doctor fish" (Garra rufa) that feasted on the 20-something's feet somehow triggered onychomadesis - a condition involving "a complete halt in nail plate production".

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 fish, which belong to the carp family and are native to the Middle East, normally eat plankton but will nibble on dead skin if no plankton is available.

Soon, sessions with the rebranded "doctor fish" were also being hailed as a treatment for improving eczema, rough skin, circulation, and cleanliness.

Experts have said that fish pedicures may carry a risk of infection.

The woman's toenails will likely return, but it will take a long time as nails only grow about one millimeter a month on average, Lipner said. If you don't know, the fish pedicure is just like it sounds. "I am not convinced at all that the fishes caused the problem", Dr. Antonella Tosti, the Fredric Brandt Endowed Professor of Dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, told CNN.

However, routine use of the fish for pedicures is another matter, she said, and may often cause more harm than good.

And even if spa owners can properly sanitize the fish and tubs, research shows disease-causing bacteria can be readily found in both the tubs and fish used in these spas, she added.

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Lipner noticed that several of the woman's toenails had started separating from the nail beds. Dr. Lipner continued that her patient's case could be the first incident where onychomadesis occurred due to a fish pedicure.

"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 would not reveal where the woman got the pedicure, but noted the treatment has been banned in at least 10 states, largely due to health concerns. They hit their peak in popularity in the USA around a decade ago, but have since been banned in at least 10 states, including NY, largely because of health concerns.

In 2011, an investigation by the UK's Fish Health Inspectorate found a bacterial outbreak among thousands of these fish, which had been transported from Indonesia to United Kingdom pedicure spas.

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

Several spas in the US and Canada offer fish pedicures but they are controversial.

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