Fish pedicures are one of the new fastest growing beauty treatments. Fish pedicures involve small toothless carp eating away the dead skin around feet. Recently it has come under scrutiny from health experts and animal rights campaigners.
Garra rufa lift off hard skin and it is thought by some an enzyme in their saliva called diathanol can heal conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. The growing popularity of this type of treatment has led some outlets to expand to full body immersion tanks for an all over treatment. Supports of the practice say treatments leave rough skin looking healthy and buffed and the process leaves them relaxed just like a massage.
In the USA a number of states have recently banned the practice over fears of spreading infections and disease. The practice is now being investigating for the potential risks and although a ban is unlawfully in the rest of the world, guidelines are being prepared for the general public on best practices. Although there are no known cases of infection from the fish foot spas and the risk of catching infection is thought to be low there have been some inquiries from local health officials and are looking through the most up to date evidence surrounding fish foot spas. Normally cosmetologists are required to dispose of or sanatise tools after use. The fish are however too expensive to throw away after single use. This could mean that infections could be spread between people by the fish through small cuts one may have on the feet.
Some have shown concern over how the fish may be kept. As fish are covered by the animal welfare act they need a stable environment that caters to their natural habitat with the correct temperature and water quality. As people are immersing their body parts into the fish tank it is reasonably this will change the quality of the water also disinfectants used on the tanks themselves may prove toxic to the fish
Fish foot spa practice dates back 400 years to southern turkey where these so called "doctor fish" were used to heal skin. The Turkish government has declared the garra rufa as a protected species amid concerns that they may be over exploited for the spa industry. This has lead to many US chains using a similar species called the chin chin. Although the chin chin is similar to the garra rafa it is not as effective and is more prior to dying in the process.
One uk firm has opened over 21 stores amid increasing demand. Consumers are spread across all ages and sexes some of which are there for the novelty factor while others see it as a regular treatment often returning as frequently as twice a month. A Spokesperson for these outlets claim the welfare of the fish is very high on their agenda.