Young Woman Loses Her Toenails After Getting A Fish Pedicure

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Here's hoping she doesn't resort to another fish pedicure to get her feet summer-ready.

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.

Ultimately, the condition usually causes the nail to fall off, according to the new report, published today (July 3) in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

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.

However, routine use of the fish for pedicures is another matter, she said, and may often cause more harm than good. The toothless carp fish - which are plant eaters - voraciously feast on dead human skin.

Dr. Shari R. Lipner, an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine, wrote a report on the young woman's case in JAMA Dermatology.

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

In the new case, it's not exactly clear how fish pedicures might cause onychomadesis, but it's likely that trauma from the fish biting multiple nails caused the nails to stop growing, the report said. In addition, the fish themselves can not be sanitized between each customer's pedicure session, the CDC says.

As for Lipner's patient, her nails will grow back, though it'll take time. Lipner was not able to identify the fish species involved in this case. 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.

The report doesn't specify where the woman had her pedicure, for the sake of protecting her anonymity, but it's worth noting that the pedicures have been banned in many states in the U.S., but they remain popular in China.

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. According to the CDC, more than 10 US states have banned fish pedicures entirely.

Several spas in the USA and Canada offer fish pedicures but they are controversial. As a result, people may see deep grooves that run horizontally across their nails - known as Beau lines - or they may see larger gaps where there is no nail, the AAD said.

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