Woman's 'Fish Pedicure' Tied to Odd Toenail Problem

Tiny fish called Garra rufa eat dead human skin making for a sort of pedicure

Tiny fish called Garra rufa eat dead human skin making for a sort of pedicure

A study released Tuesday details the case of a woman whose toenails fell off after she had a fish pedicure.

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

You know the ones we're talking about: The gimmicky pedicure in which you dunk your feet in water and tiny fish nibble away dead skin.

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.

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

Fish pedicures are said to leave feet smoother and smelling fresher, however, these claims are "unfounded", according to Lipner, adding there are many risks associated with it. These fish typically eat plankton, but if plankton aren't available, they will eat dead human skin. 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 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, wrote in an email.

The woman, who is in her 20s, said after the fish pedicure, most of her toenails on both feet stopped growing and began to fall off, a condition known as onychomadesis.

"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.

What she had done, though, was have a fish pedicure six months before.

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

Lipner noticed that several of the woman's toenails had started separating from the nail beds. There were reports of a patient with a Staphylococcus aureus infection after a fish pedicure.

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

Indeed, in 2012, researchers in the United Kingdom intercepted shipments of Garra rufa fish bound for U.K. spas and tested them for bacteria.

At least 10 states in the US 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.

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