The fish pedicure has become a common activity in all tourist areas of Thailand, between restaurants and souvenir shops many massage parlors offer you to soak your feet in huge aquariums to allow small harmless fish to eat your dead skin.
What is a fish pedicure
The fish pedicure consists of plunging your feet into an aquarium that contains fish called Garra rufa.
These small fish, which only measure a few centimeters, have no teeth, and like to feed on dead skin.
This activity is normally harmless, small fish are not piranhas, and yet, one woman had to have all her toes amputated, and another lost her toenails and the cause in both cases would be these fish pedicures.
A Thai masseuse, speaking of these stories, told me that it was dangerous, the water was dirty, that they couldn’t disinfect it because it would kill fish, and people with AIDS or other diseases could have foot injuries, contaminate the water and make people with foot injuries sick.
I don’t know how many diseases are transmissible through water, but it seems that we should be wary of this activity, even if there is no evidence today that the two cases below are linked to this practice.
And these are two rare cases, each year a large number of tourists soak their feet in these aquariums without having any problem afterward.
She loses her nails after a Fish pedicure
A young American girl lost six of her toenails a few months after practicing a Fish pedicure.
Dr. Shari Lipner, a doctor in the Department of Dermatology at the Weill Cornell School of Medicine in New York, reported in the JAMA Dermatology medical journal that he received a 20-year-old American woman in consultation with six fingernails in poor condition.
The young woman suffered from a disease known as onychomadesis, a nail infection characterized by spontaneous nail loss.
And it could be that the cause was the pedicure with fish that the young woman had offered herself a few months earlier.
“To my knowledge, this is the first case of onychomadesis caused by a fish pedicure,” said Dr. Shari Lipner.
“It is likely that the trauma caused by the multiple bites of the fish led to the cessation of production of the nail plate.
According to the dermatologist, this case illustrates the importance of skin and nail problems that can occur following a “fish pedicure.”
The dermatologist points out that disease-causing bacteria have been isolated in the basins and fish of 24 “fish pedicure” centers.
“Also, there have been two cases of staphylococcus aureus infection and one case of mycobacterial infection in people who have had a fish pedicure,” continues the specialist.
Fish pedicure centers have been banned in at least 10 of the 50 states in the United States.
She gets her toes amputated after a fish pedicure in Thailand
A 29-year-old Australian woman contracted a foot infection during a fish pedicure session in Thailand.
Back home, the young woman had to have all her toes gradually amputated.
A 29-year-old Australian woman contracted a toe infection due to an insect in the pool water.
She had to have all her toes amputated from her right foot, reports the British newspaper The Sun.
In 2008, Victoria Curthoys injured her big toe on her right foot with a piece of glass.
The wound becomes infected, and the young woman must have a part of her toe amputated.
Four years later, she went to Thailand for the holidays.
Fish pedicures being very popular, she decided to try a spa, which, in her own words, “looked very clean.”
Back in Australia, the young woman began to suffer from high fevers.
“It took the doctors a year to understand what infection I was suffering from.
By the time they identified it, the bone in my foot had been completely eaten, and I was always sick,” she says.
Finally, realizing that Victoria has Schwelmenella disease, an infection caused by an insect in Thailand that gnaws at her bones and has infiltrated her surgical wounds, doctors cut off what was left of her big toe in December 2012.
Unfortunately for the young woman, her terrible story does not end there.
Indeed, the total amputation of his big toe leads to new infections.
So the doctors have to amputate his second toe.
From then on, “I was healthy for two years,” explains the young woman.
“I thought I was lucky to have one foot still and be able to continue my life normally.
But I started to get sick again: every morning, I threw up, and I had a constant fever, but the X-rays showed no sign of infection, so the doctors finally told me that everything was in my head,” she recalls.
“Until my doctor asked for blood tests, and then they realized that I had another bone infection and that I had too many white cells in my blood.
Finally, from infection to infection, doctors will eventually amputate all his toes.
Health authorities regularly warn against these fish pedicures from Asia and increasingly popular in the West.
Last year, the High Council of Public Health (HCSP) issued an opinion warning against fish pedicure.
“This is a practice that has no medical indication,” the experts wrote, recommending that “fish therapy” should no longer be used because it induces, according to them, unproven “medical therapeutic efficacy.”
Also, in 2013, the National Health Security Agency (Anses) had already assessed the risks of disease transmission in its care.
Result: “Cases of bacterial infections related to aquarium and pedicure practices have been described,” the agency noted, explaining that the tanks were never disinfected.
He concluded: “Some users (diabetics, immunocompromised, or with skin lesions on the feet) constitute a susceptible population at higher risk of infection.”