Woman's toenails fall off after fish pedicure

Woman's toenails fall off after fish pedicure

According to a case report published by the patient's doctor in JAMA Dermatology, the woman's toenails stopped growing and started falling off months after getting a fish pedicure in NY. The species of fish used - a toothless carp known as Garra rufa - are usually plant eaters, but in a pinch, they will also eat dead human skin.

After performing an examination and taking a patient history, Dr Shari Lipner, director of the nail division, determined that the most likely cause of the nail plate shedding, a condition called onychomadesis, was a so-called "fish pedicure" that the woman had received - yes, you guessed it - about six months previously.

After having the fish pedicure, the woman said her toenails stopped growing and then started falling off.

For one, the fish are often used on more than one person, making the risk of transmitting infections a real possibility.

"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 her dermatologist thinks she's narrowed down on the culprit: a fish pedicure. In her report, Lipner describes this as a "relatively common physical examination finding" that has been linked to infections, medications, autoimmune and heritable conditions.

"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.

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As for Lipner's patient, her nails will grow back, though it'll take time.

Now it's those trendy fish pedicures that are shrouded in horror.

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. In addition, the fish themselves can not be sanitized between each customer's pedicure session, the CDC says.

She couldn't divulge where her patient got the procedure in order to protect her anonymity but noted the treatments are popular in China. But there were special contraindications for fish pedicures that needed to be considered; recent waxing or shaving, certain skin disorders and cuts on the feet or legs could increase one's risk of infection, she said.

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

"Therefore, their use has been banned in at least 10 states in the United States", she said.

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

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