Published: Thu, July 05, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Fish pedicure causes woman to lose toenails

Fish pedicure causes woman to lose toenails

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.

Sheri Lipner, an assistant professor of dermatology, told Gizmodo: 'While the mechanism of action is not entirely clear, it is likely due to the fish traumatizing the nail matrix'. The dermatologist said it was most likely linked to the fish pedicure.

The woman had condition that can cause nail shedding.

. She had no history of toenail problems.

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

While this case is the first recorded instance of onychomadesis caused by doctor fish and there are only a handful of reports of general infections, the pedicures are not extremely popular around Australia.

However, another expert disagrees, saying the woman's toenails could have fallen off because her toes were overlapping inside her shoes.

Lipner noticed that several of the woman's toenails had started separating from the nail beds.

It could take a year or longer for toenails to grow back.

However, it turns out that these fish spas that offer you a pedicure may not be as good as you think. Lipner was not able to identify the fish species involved in this case. 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". It could be due to lingering microbes from whomever's feet were there last, versus the fish itself.

Here in Canada, the Vancouver Island Health Authority shut down a fish pedicure spa in Duncan, 2011, citing concerns the pedicures could lead to the transmission of skin diseases. In fact, the United Kingdom government's Health Protection Agency (HPA) published a report on fish pedicure safety in 2011 and concluded that the risk for infection from the treatment is "likely to be very low".

Their recommendations dealt with hygiene and infection control, "as would be required for other types of beauty salons". Fish were found with bulging eyes, many hemmorhaging around the gills and mouth. These fish will eat dead human skin when no plankton are around, so they leave your feet feeling soft and smooth. "It was a bit of a craze people got excited about, and then they moved on to the next thing", said Verner-Jeffreys, who added that the concern surrounding fish spas is not just about human health. And healthy fish, he added, would mean "less problems all around". In addition, the fish themselves can not be sanitized between each customer's pedicure session, the CDC says.

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

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