Tag Archives: JAMA

Are Fish Pedicures Dangerous to Your Health?

Back when fish pedicures were a growing fad in the United States, my feet took a dunk at a New Hampshire nail salon. I chronicled the experience for the Boston Herald business section and for a New Hampshire Magazine humor column.

Here’s the New Hampshire Magazine cartoon by the talented Brad Fitzpatrick that ran with my column:

For the uneducated, fish pedicures are when schools of flesh-eating fish (a species called “Garra rufa“) put licensed nail salon workers on the unemployment line. The fish feast on your dead skin – leaving your feet refreshed – and don’t require a tip.

Shortly after my articles, fish pedicures were banned in the United States, though CNN reports that this service was quite popular in England for some time.

Now, the JAMA Dermatology medical journal published a July 3, 2018 case study of a young woman suffering from onychomadesis, a complete halt in nail growth.  Although author Dr. Shari Lipner states the exact cause of her nail loss is unknown, she concludes “it is likely that direct trauma caused by fish biting multiple nail units causes a cessation in nail plate production.”

The CNN headline will certainly put a scare into any future customers.

Those are my toenails in the fish tank picture at the top of this blog – and those toenails are still growing like weeds years later.

Are fish pedicures dangerous to your health? I’m not a doctor, but I can unequivocally state the practice wasn’t harmful to me.

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