Woman's Fish Pedicure Turns Into A Disturbing Medical Mystery

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According to a case report published by the patient's doctor in JAMA Dermatology, the woman's toenails stopped growing and started falling off months after getting a fish pedicure in NY. You put your feet in a tub of water filled with tiny fish who eat your dead skin. These fish are omnivores and in their natural habitat ingest plankton, but when there's no plant life around they will eat human skin, nibbling away at calluses and rough cuticles for a "natural" beauty treatment.

The woman's doctor, Sher Lipner, assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University, said that she ruled out all other possibilities of her condition.

"We are not entirely sure of the mechanism of action but most likely it's from the trauma of the fish on the nail matrix, which is the nail growth centre, that probably caused this condition", Lipner, told Today.

Fish pedicures may be a fun way to exfoliate rough heels, but experts are now warning that the procedure may pose an infection risk.

The popularity of fish pedicures peaked about 10 years ago, but they are still trendy today, the report said. And while nobody else has complained about their toenails falling off, other people have reported foot infections as a result of fish pedicures.

Currently, more than 10 states in the US have banned the use of fish pedicures for varying reasons, according to the CDC. But, there are several risks linked to fish pedicures - for example, when the fish are present, the tubs can not be properly cleaned between one customer's use and another's.

Their use has been banned in some states in the U.S. - at least 10, by Lipner's count. Doctors were able to discover the reason for why this happened, a fish pedicure she received six months prior. "We don't see the [nail] shedding until months after the event". 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.

Moreover, certain types of skin disorders, cuts on the feet or legs and recent waxing or shaving can also increase the risk infections.

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.

The woman's toenails will return, but not for a long time, said Lipner. However, it can take 18 months to grow a new set of toenails, at a slow pace of around one millimeter a month.

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