Fish pedicure causes woman to lose toenails

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

Whether or not the fish were at fault, it's also worth noting a that these pedicures have been linked to another health issue: infections.

A NY woman lost her toenails after developing a condition believed to have been brought on by a fish pedicure, according to the dermatologist who treated the issue.

If you are on holiday and you just can't resist the ticklish temptation, then do your research into your chosen treatment facility and ensure they are reputable and clean. However, although interest may have dwindled down as of now, the spa ritual of submerging your feet into a pool of water as fish start to nibble away the dead and dry skin on that area is still pretty popular.

Image by Dr. Shari R. Lipner. Onychomadesis only temporarily stops nail growth, which usually resumes within 12 weeks, according to a 2017 study of the condition. It can be caused by trauma, like an injury, or by certain conditions or medications, according to a paper published previous year in the journal Cutis.

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Here's hoping she doesn't resort to another fish pedicure to get her feet summer-ready.

"While the mechanism of action is not entirely clear, it is likely due to the fish traumatising the nail matrix", Sheri Lipner, an assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University's Weill Cornell Medicine and the woman's treating doctor, told Gizmodo via email. But this is the first case of onychomadesis tied to a fish pedicure, the new report said. While experts still don't know exactly how fish pedicure-borne infections happen, it could be due to lingering bacteria from the last person to put their food it in the fish tank.

The beauty craze has been banned in 10 U.S. states - including NY - because of health concerns.

In fact, one clinical trial found that doctor fish were a useful treatment for people with psoriasis - the fish ate away psoriatic skin but left healthier bits untouched, Lipner said in the report.

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

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"First, tubs and fish can not be adequately sanitized between people", Lipner said, "with the same fish typically reused for several persons".

"This case highlights the importance of skin and nail problems associated with fish pedicures and the need for dermatologists to educate our patients about these adverse effects", the report concludes. In 2011, the Vancouver Island Health Authority also banned it, saying that there were bacterial risks because the fish could not be sterilized. In addition, the fish themselves can not be sanitized between each customer's pedicure session, the CDC says.

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