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

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The young woman, who is in her 20's, stated that after receiving her fish pedicure, her toenails stopped growing and they began to fall off.

Fish pedicures have boomed since the first USA fish spa opened in Virginia in 2008, Lipner claims in the paper, due to what she calls "unfounded claims" that the treatment leaves feet smoother and less pungent, removes bacteria and fungus and increases circulation. These pedicures involve dunking your feet in a tub of water filled with tiny fish called Garra rufa.

The unidentified patient's nails separated from her first three toes over the six months since she received the spa treatment, in which garrarufa fish, or "doctor fish", nibble off dead skin around the feet.

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

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"I do not recommend fish pedicures for any medical or aesthetic goal", Lipner said. The toothless carp fish - which are plant eaters - voraciously feast on dead human skin.

Lipner said the patient had no other medical history that she could link to her abnormal toenails. However, people with onychomadesis usually experience spontaneous regrowth of their nail within 12 weeks, according to a 2017 report in the journal Cutis.

"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.

Now it's those trendy fish pedicures that are shrouded in horror. In addition, the fish themselves can not be sanitized between each customer's pedicure session, the CDC says.

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Here in Canada, the Vancouver Island Health Authority shut down a fish pedicure spa in Duncan, B.C.in 2011, citing concerns the pedicures could lead to the transmission of skin diseases.

Tosti, a former president of the European Nail Society, said the woman's problem could be caused by something much more mundane: overlapping toes in a certain type of shoe.

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. In addition, in 2014, researchers from Italy reported the case of a person who took a fish pedicure and then developed a foot infection caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium.

Indeed, in 2012, researchers in the United Kingdom intercepted shipments of Garra rufa fish bound for U.K. spas and tested them for bacteria. As a result, people may see deep grooves that run horizontally across their nails - known as Beau lines - or they may see larger gaps where there is no nail, the AAD said.

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