'Fish pedicure' causes woman to lose toenails
Monday, July 9, 2018, 14:14 - The loss of a young woman's toenails in the US has been linked back to an infection developed during a "fish pedicure", according to a recent study in the journal JAMA Dermatology.
The woman sought medical treatment after her toenails began separating from the nail beds six months after the pedicure. She had no history of injury to her feet or toes, no issues with foot fungus and wasn't on any medication.
The doctors who examined her concluded the fish pedicure was the likely culprit.
During a fish pedicure, a client's feet are placed inside a tank with small fish called garra rufa.
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They usually eat plankton but will eat dead skin in the absence of it. Animal rights activists are against the practice, arguing the fish may be kept in unsafe environments.
The pedicures are banned in some municipalities but are available in parts Canada and the U.S. Still, the authors of the JAMA study warn there are "inherent risks" associated with them.
"Tubs and fish cannot be adequately sanitized between people, and the same fish are typically reused for successive persons," the study says.
"There are concerns of transmitting infections ... several bacteria capable of causing diseases in humans were islolated from batches of garra rufa and waters from 24 fish spas."
The woman involved in the study was diagnosed with onychomadesis. Doctors believe the "direct trauma" of the fish biting multiple nails beds are what caused the nails to separate and fall off.
It appears to be the first documented case of a patient developing onychomadesis after a fish pedicure.
Click here for a photo taken during the study.