Fish and feet ! Fish pedicures explored.

I have heard so many people in the media lately talking about fish nibbling their feet I was intrigued to find out more.  I enjoy working as a reflexologist and clearly have a professional interest in people’s feet, but feet and fish just don’t seem to go together! I have been exploring the subject and I must admit I am still not convinced it’s a good idea, but I'd love to know your opinion.

A fish pedicure is a foot treatment that involves placing the feet into a tank filled with small fish called garra rufa. These fish enthusiastically devour dead skin on the feet leaving them softer.  The fish suck dead skin from your feet. The pedicure performed by garra rufa fish is reportedly painless since the fish are toothless and only feed on dead skin tissue.  People who have dipped their toes into the fish pedicure tank report a sensation of swirling gelatinous water and tingling feelings. The experience appears to be enjoyable for most and results in smoother skin with reduced hard skin.  So this all seems like a positive treat for our feet, but I’m concerned about a number of issues.

When else do we share water with others? Swimming pools and spas?  The water in pools as we know is treated with chemicals to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, but the fish tanks cannot be full of these chemicals or it would kill the hard working fish.  The tanks have a constant water supply which is filtered and UV treated but this would not necessarily remove all micro organisms. There is, in my opinion, a real risk of infection as the skin removing action of these fish can potentially leave the skin open to bacteria and infection in the water. In America health and safety concerns have led to some fish pedicures being closed down due to the risk of infection. 

Animals work for us in many ways and their welfare is protected by many organisations and regulations.  There have been suggestions that the fish are not being humanely treated. Concerns such as how well they are fed as salons need to encourage them to eat the client’s dead skin.  I do not know how the fish are cared for and I assume the salons want to look after the fish well after investing in them.

I don’t think I will be booking a fish pedicure, but I'm interested to hear from people who have.  Regular massage and reflexology can help skin texture and improve circulation. This can help reduce the formation of dry hard skin. I think I will be sticking with these treatments and not dipping my toes into the fish pedicure pool just yet!

Reflexology Kidderminster. Please contact Jo 0753 1121199

Posted on February 7, 2011 .