After fish pedicure, woman loses her toenails

Story highlights

  • A woman's toenails fell off due to a fish pedicure she'd had months prior, according to a new report
  • Fish pedicures involve a species called Garra rufa that will eat dead human skin
  • Fish pedicures may carry an infection risk, experts say

(CNN)After a young woman's toenails started to separate from her toes, a doctor finally zeroed in on the reason: a fish pedicure, according to a report published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

Six months prior, the woman had dunked her feet in a tub of water filled with tiny fish called Garra rufa that will eat dead human skin when no plankton are around. It wasn't until later on that she noticed her nails beginning to shed.
    "I think that this is probably more common than we think," said the report's author, Dr. Shari R. Lipner, an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine and director of the nail division.
      "We don't see the [nail] shedding until months after the event, so I think it's hard for patients and physicians -- especially if they're not even aware that fish pedicures can do this -- to make that connection," she said.