Woman, and nowadays men too, get their feet pedicured every now and then to avoid dead cells, dry skin and most of all, look fabulous and pretty in their open-feet sandals. Conventional pedicures use pumice stones, metal foot files or similar other instruments to scrape off dead skin. Sometimes, the dead cells stick onto the skin just like a leech and it takes more than a pumice stone to get the work done! Maybe use fish instead to clean your feet? Yes, fish spas are booming with customers and every mall has a dedicated space for this! But ironically we see hundreds of people dipping off their feet into the fish tank continuously without any cleaning up done.
History of the Fish Spa
Fish pedicure is a foot treatment that involves soaking your feet in a tub of water at a temperature of around 25°C to 30°C filled with small Garra rufa fish. Famously known as the ‘doctor fish’, these are freshwater species that are native to the oceans of the Persian Gulf. In their natural habitat these fish ingest planktons and, in their absence, ingest dead skin of humans as they are potentially omnivores. But one need not worry about being bitten as these fish don’t have teeth but only nibble on the dead skin tissue. Sadly though, they are mostly starved so that they pounce on human dead skin cells once we dip our feet in the tub. Isn’t this quite cruel?
A town called Kangal in Turkey overflowed with people affected by psoriasis because it was observed that the native Garra fish fed on psoriasis-affected skin and left the normal skin intact. This was also confirmed via a research done on 67 psoriasis-affected patients who underwent fish therapy for a couple of weeks. One must bear in mind that this research was done in a controlled setting and not at some salon.
Does the Fish Spa Spare the Toes?
Popular since the last decade or so, there have been no harmful issues reported related to these fish eating our dead skin even though there do exist quite a few hygiene-related problems due to which some American and European states have banned fish spas. Good times don’t last forever and recently there was a case presented by a woman in her 20s who reported a 6-month history of abnormal toenails. She reported no family history of nail disorder, no medical problems, no major illness or fever, no medications or vaccinations used in the last year or so but only got herself done a fish pedicure just before her nail abnormalities started showing up. The physician who examined the subject reported that the proximal nail plate was discontinuous with the distal nail plate on the first, second and third toe on each foot. The first toenail also showed that the nail bed was slowly disappearing. These conditions made the doctor diagnose it as onychomadesis. Finger and toe nails can be affected due to various other infections and conditions. Get to know these conditions and learn the complete nail anatomy to understand these conditions better with inputs from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Onychomadesis is the proximal separation of the nail plate from the nail matrix due to temporary stoppage of nail growth. This mostly happens due to improper functioning of the nail matrix, the tissue that the nail protects. A fungal skin infection, the nails get slowly separated from the nail bed totally. Onychomadesis is characterized by complete cessation of nail plate production and is often related to major medical illnesses, infections, diseases, autoimmune disease, medications and hereditary conditions. But, this is the first case of onychomadesis associated with a fish pedicure.
This patient’s report was published in the journal JAMA Dermatology and the news has spread like wildfire worldwide. Although this might be the first case reported pertaining to fish spas, there might be many others simply not reported because people and physicians fail to make the connection due to a long-time gap between the pedicure and the nail-shedding period.
From Boom to Gloom
Fish pedicure grew popular some years back due to many unproved advantages boasted of-smooth and silky feet that smell great, increased circulation, decreased bacteria and fungal attack, treatment of psoriasis and eczema and much more! With time, there have been several problems, both hygiene and health related ones, reported since then. The core problems include:
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