Have you ever heard of fish pedicures? This controversial service has been banned in over 10 states, and for good reason. The fish eat off dead skin on your feet, leaving them silky and smooth to the touch. Fish pedicures gained popularity in the United States in 2008, when many day spa owners purchased Garra rufa fish from the Northern and Central Middle East in an attempt to add this to their list of unique salon services. The fish are only a half-inch long and have no teeth. They are toothless, so the process is not painful, and they eat the dead skin while leaving the refreshed healthy skin unharmed. They have been used for centuries to treat psoriasis and eczema.
You are probably wondering why states would ban this at your local day spa. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in the process of investigating outbreaks of viruses, diseases and bacterial infections that have been found in the water used during the transportation process of the fishes. Every day spa that offers this service is defending it, claiming that no disease-causing pathogen can survive in a filtered, UV-lit tank.
Thankfully, the health risk to the general population is considered minimal. But people with diabetes, cancer, HIV, advanced age and anyone with sores or scratches on their feet face some serious health risks and should think twice before partaking in any salon services like this. Consulting your physician may not be a bad idea.
Perhaps the grossest part of this whole practice is that the same fish are being used on multiple customers. And it is believed that most spa owners do not ensure that the tubs are cleaned out properly in between each customer. That cannot meet the high hygienic standards of the United States. Other people believe that Chinese Chinchin fish are being mistaken for Garra rufa, which is very dangerous because Chinchin do bite. Not exactly a relaxing day at the spa.
And this cannot be healthy for the fish or the environment. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering the possibility that Garra rufa may present a serious threat to any plant and animal life in the event that they are released into U.S. waters because they are not originally native to our lakes, streams or oceans. A spa service just doesn’t seem to be worth the risk.
Fish pedicures just seem dangerous and unhealthy, but to each her own. If you attempt this or any other fish-related salon services, good luck to you.