Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Woman Lost Her Toenails After Fish Pedicure, Say Doctors

Woman's'Fish Pedicure Tied to Odd Toenail Problem During a fish pedicure people immerse their feet in a tub of water that contains small fish called Garra rufa. Credit Shutterstock
Johnnie Parks | 05 July, 2018, 23:51

- A fish pedicure is a treatment that many women touted as rejuvenating their feet. She had no medical problems, no problems with foot fungus, and no recent injuries to her toes. Animal rights groups say the pedicures are a form of animal cruelty, while at least 10 US states have banned fish pedicures over concerns about bacteria in the water. 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.

However, routine use of the fish for pedicures is another matter, she said, and may often cause more harm than good.

As for the woman, her nails will likely return, but not for a long time.

This is the first reported case of a fish pedicure causing the toenails to fall off, so it's not necessarily common.

Fish spas used to be all the rage when they first came out.

The unnamed woman in her 20s went to the doctor after suffering for six months from abnormal toenails, Dr. Shari Lipner of Weill Cornell Medicine wrote in a case report published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

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"We will have to wait quite a while to see the outcome", she said. The fish, which belong to the carp family and are native to the Middle East, normally eat plankton but will nibble on dead skin if no plankton is available. Fish pedicures, therefore, promise softer, smoother skin.

Fish tubs (and the fish inside) can't be properly sanitized, and after feeding on multiple feet, the fish have been known to transmit infections, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium marinum.

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. In 2011, the Vancouver Island Health Authority also banned it, saying that there were bacterial risks because the fish could not be sterilized. The culprit was found to be a streptococcal bacteria, a strain that is associated with fish like tilapia, according to David Verner-Jeffreys, a senior microbiologist at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science in the UK. "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.

While Garra rufa have been investigated as a treatment for psoriasis - though not in the context of a nail salon - Lipner stressed that this is not standard medical practice.

And although there's no way to test for fish-pedicure-induced toenail loss, she told CNN, "I think we're fairly sure that it was the fish pedicure".

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