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05 July 2018, 11:51 | Melissa Porter
Woman's 'Fish Pedicure' Tied to Odd Toenail Problem
Although a fish pedicure may sound like a toe-tickling unique experience, you could potentially lose your toenails - seriously.
According to a case report published by her doctor in JAMA Dermatology, the woman's toenails stopped growing and started falling off soon after she received a so-called fishpedicure.
Fish pedicures have boomed since the first US fish spa opened in Virginia in 2008, Lipner claims in the paper, due to what she calls "unfounded claims" that the treatment leaves feet smoother and less pungent, removes bacteria and fungus and increases circulation.
Fish pedicures involve having small fish nibble on a person's feet while they soak in a tub of warm or room temperature water. Essentially, the fish in the tub are actually starved so they will feed on your dead skin!
Image by Dr. Shari R. Lipner. The dermatologist said it was most likely linked to the fish pedicure.
"While the mechanism of action is not entirely clear, it is likely due to the fish traumatizing the nail matrix", she told Gizmodo.
While this may be the first case of onychomadesis associated with fish pedicures, dermatologists note that there are some serious hygienic risks involved in the treatment. It's a typical byproduct of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, a viral infection common in children that appears as a rash on the hands and feet, so it's unclear how the infection was spread through the fish pedicure.
Dr. Lipner also advises people against getting a fish pedicure, as the practice has been banned in 10 states in America due to health concerns.
"I do not recommend fish pedicures for any medical or aesthetic goal", Lipner said.
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And there are case reports of people who got infected with staph bacteria, MRSA, and Mycobacterium marinum- a bacteria found in aquarium fish- following the pedicures. In fact, the United Kingdom government's Health Protection Agency (HPA) published a report on fish pedicure safety in 2011 and concluded that the risk for infection from the treatment is "likely to be very low".
Despite the name, "fish pedicures do not meet the legal definition of a pedicure", the CDC says. 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.
"I think we can pretty definitively say that getting a fish pedicure is probably not the way to go to treat skin and nail conditions".
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