Fish pedicure blamed for woman's lost toenails

Woman's'Fish Pedicure Tied to Odd Toenail Problem

Woman's'Fish Pedicure Tied to Odd Toenail Problem

A woman reportedly lost her toenails after getting a fish pedicure.

Earlier this year, a young woman from NY came to the dermatologists at Weill Cornell Medicine hospital because six of her toenails had begun detaching from her foot for no apparent reason six months prior.

The woman, in her 20s, went to the doctor after noticing that her toenails looked abnormal - a problem she'd had for about six months, the report said.

"I wouldn't say it necessarily poses a significant risk to humans, but it did illustrate that they may be carrying things which are nasty both to fish and humans".

The patient didn't have any typical risk factors for toenail problems - such as an injury to the nails, or a family history of nail disorders - but she did report that she had a fish pedicure a few months before her nail problems started.

Though it does not meet the legal definition of a pedicure, the practice of sticking your feet into a tub filled with diminutive omnivorous fish from the species Garra rufa has been a popular spa service worldwide for more than a decade, according to Dr Lipner. The fish used in this treatment are toothless carp fish, which are plant eaters and eat the dead human skin.

Dr. Sheri Lipner, the woman's doctor and an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine, stated that this was most likely a result of fish traumatization to the woman's toenails. He explained that people who have feet where their second toes are longer than their first toe, called a Greek foot, may have nail loss when wearing high heels and pointed shoes.

The popularity of fish pedicures peaked about 10 years ago, but they are still trendy today, the report said.


One skin expert not involved with the case said the report raises cause for concern.

Lipner said the woman's nails may grow back - but it'll take as long as 18 months.

"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. Dr. Lipner continued that her patient's case could be the first incident where onychomadesis occurred due to a fish pedicure.

For the sake of protecting her patient's anonymity, Lipner can't reveal where the woman got her pedicure.

In 2011, an investigation by the UK's Fish Health Inspectorate found a bacterial outbreak among thousands of these fish, which had been transported from Indonesia to United Kingdom pedicure spas.

Their use has been banned in some states in the U.S. - at least 10, by Lipner's count.

"We did have some concerns about the welfare of these animals being transported around the world, often by people with limited experience", he said.

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