In Travel on Friday 14th Sep, 2018

Woman loses toes after contracting infection from fish pedicure

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If you’re heading to south-east Asia soon and thinking about dipping your toes into the water for a fish pedicure, think again.

An Australian woman has had all five toes on her right foot amputated after placing her feet in an infected tank of water for a fish pedicure. 

The popular pedicures involve customers putting their feet in tanks of water full of toothless fish that remove dead skin. Most spas generally advertise them as relaxing, exfoliating and calming. However, the results can sometimes be anything but. 

As a teenager, the now 29-year-old stood on a piece of glass which caused an infection in her big toe. As the state of her toe worsened, doctors were forced to amputate half of it.

Four years later in 2010, Victoria headed to Thailand for an exotic holiday. Without thinking much of it, she popped her feet in a fish tank and enjoyed the ticklish activity.

However, what she wasn’t aware of was the fact that the tank was infected with a water-born bug that could only be found in Thailand. This bug proceeded to seep through her old surgery wounds and infect the bone of her big toe.

Once she returned home, she was struck with a fever bad enough to seek medical help. After a whole year without a definitive answer, Victoria was eventually diagnosed with Schwelmenella, an infection that eats away at the bone.

In 2012, Victoria had her entire big toe amputated. However, that was just the beginning of her horror. Due to the pressure of missing a big toe, her remaining toes began to form painful calluses that hid growing infections underneath. 

After discovering the bone infection was still present, doctors removed her second toe. Two years later her third and fourth were amputated as well. 

With only one left, all the pressure moved onto her little toe and, in November 2017, doctors discovered the same bone infection had spread and eventually they amputated it, leaving her completely toeless.

After over a decade of amputations and trauma it seems the pain is finally over for Victoria who said she has never felt better, adding: “I can honestly say that my foot has never been as healthy as it is now. Now I can put pressure on my foot.”

Earlier this year, another woman fell victim to a fish pedicure in Bali when she lost all of her toenails after contracting a disease from the lukewarm water.

The American woman suffered from onychomadesis, which is the periodic shedding of parts or the entirety of a nail.

Commercial use of the toothless Garra rufa fish, also known as the doctor fish, has long been scrutinised however, the practice is more popular than ever in holiday hotspots like Thailand and Indonesia.

While the exfoliating spas may seem enticing, the risk of infection might just be enough to make you think twice!

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