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A toothless fish is used in a fish pedicure to remove dead skin from feet submerged in water. There are several countries in the U.S., Canada, and Europe that prohibit their use because of health and ethical concerns.
Hot springs in Turkey, where the custom first appeared, are naturally home to these fish. Since the early 1900s, people have come to these springs to heal skin ailments. Some people import these fish to be used in spa treatments. However, there are countless instances of people getting infections from Garra Rufa fish pedicures.
This article discusses an overview of fish pedicures, including their potential benefits and drawbacks.
What Exactly Are Fish Pedicures
A foot therapy called a “fish pedicure” tries to give patients smooth skin. They are also called Ichthyotherapy or fish spa treatments.
A person has a pedicure in which their feet are soaked in a bowl of water with small “doctor fish,” or Garra Rufa. The fish will consume the person’s dead skin.
Bathing in waters that typically contain G. Rufa is possible in some places. The Middle East is where these freshwater fish first originated. Some people reside in Turkey’s hot springs, now well-known health resorts.
What Takes Place During A Fish Pedicure?
The first step of a Garra Rufa fish pedicure is a warm water foot rinse. They plunged their feet into a tank of G. Rufa fish. They immerse their feet in an aquarium of fish and let the fish chew the dead skin off of their heels, soles, and toes.
A spa technician then uses a towel to dry the person’s feet after they remove them from the tank. After filing or clipping the toenails, the technician may remove any dead skin that remains.
Benefits Of Fish Pedicures
A centuries-old organic old way of therapy is Garra Rufa fish pedicures. This indicates that they must have a wealth of advantages to offer. Fish spas can help reduce the signs of psoriasis and eczema, enhancing the texture of your skin.
The following are some advantages of the fish pedicure spa:
- It aids in the alleviation of skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, calluses, and warts.
- They gently remove the dry, dead skin cells from your skin to exfoliate it.
- It rejuvenates the skin by eliminating dead cells.
- After a spa treatment, your rough, spotty skin feels soft, silky, and healthful.
- It also encourages the development of new cells.
- It may lessen foot damage, blemishes, dark patches, and itching.
- It feels like a light massage when fish nibble on your skin, which is very soothing.
- It increases the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones.
Health Dangers Of Fish Pedicures
According to researchers, receiving fish pedicures at a spa has some hazards. These consist of the following:
According to a study published in 2019, fish pedicures may spread zoonotic diseases. These illnesses start in animals and then transfer to people. The danger of infection is relatively low. Scientists have discovered bacteria in G. Rufa that can infect both humans and fish. These consist of the following:
- Aeromonas hydrophila
- Aeromonas veronii
- Shewanella putrefaciens
- Mycobacterium goodii
- Mycobacterium marinum
- Vibrio cholerae
Probably the fish’s poor condition, particularly during transit, is responsible for the proliferation of these microorganisms.
For instance, it can be difficult to spotlessly clean and sanitize basins in between pedicures because many techniques would kill the fish. Additionally, many fish pedicure spas use the same fish for numerous customers.
It is unknown if G. Rufa, which lives in natural hot springs, is also vulnerable to these dangers.
Since G. Rufa fish are toothless, they rarely cause blood when nibble. In Turkey, they are a rare species, but they are very pricey. As a result, many fish pedicure businesses typically import their fish from East Asia.
This poses a problem because a fish species named Cyprinion Macrostomus nearby resembles the G. Rufa fish very much. These fish, sometimes known as “Chin Chin fish,” have teeth and will devour dead skin. They are so capable of rupturing the skin and causing bleeding.
Even though they are rare, illnesses that people contract from having Garra Rufa fish pedicures have occasionally led to fatalities. This threat should never be taken by anyone who has diabetes, a weakened immune system, or any other significant medical condition.
Additionally, fish pedicures raise ethical problems like,
- They transfer non-native species into the water when they are discharged, which may disturb the environment.
- Unless they are starving, Garra Rufa will only eat dead skin, so no other food is given to them.
- Many fish will expire during transportation because they are not native to North America.
- Garra Rufa is overfarmed in several regions of the world, producing enough for pedicures.
Fish pedicures: Are They Cruel?
Opponents of fish pedicures assert that the practice is unethical because fish imports can lead to the following issues.
- Dying when traveling
- Enduring anxiety and discomfort while traveling
- Catching illnesses
- Getting toxic exposure through pedicures
If a fish lacks any other food source or is starving, it will consume human skin.
G. Rufa is an omnivore that feeds on both plankton and algae. Fish will hunt for alternatives if there are no plankton present.
Operators of artificial fish spas purposefully do not feed the fish to get them to consume dead skin. Naturally, this can also take place. For instance, in a hot spring where the temperature is too high for plankton to develop, the fish that reside there would look for alternate food sources, such as dead skin.
Are Fish Pedicures Legal?
No, certain states do not allow fish pedicures. So, what states allow fish pedicures? They are:
- New Hampshire
- New York
- New Jersey
Additionally, they are prohibited in numerous Canadian provinces, some European nations, and Mexico.
Alternative Remedies For Feet Dryness
Several alternatives to Garra Rufa fish pedicures are available for eliminating dry skin on the feet. The following are some examples of home remedies:
- Applying foot scrubs, donning socks, and sleeping with the socks on
- Removing calluses and dry skin with an electric tool
- Using a pumice stone to polish the feet after bathing them in hot water
Alternative treatments consist of:
- Expert foot peels, which remove dead skin from the feet by using acids
- Treatments with specialized instruments by a podiatrist or chiropodist who can remove hard or dead skin
- Frequent pedicures that remove dead skin with pumice stones, scrubbing, and warm foot soaks
Frequently Asked Questions
What country did the fish pedicure come from?
Today, many Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern nations enjoy getting fish pedicures, which are claimed to have their origins in Turkey.
Are fish pedicures actually effective?
Indeed, fish pedicures remove dead skin, lessen irritation, and prevent the development of calluses. However, the fact that the fish tanks are not regularly replaced may raise the infection risk. So, before making this decision, consider your options carefully and exercise caution.
What is the price of a fish pedicure?
A fish pedicure price is between $45 to $100 in the United States, depending on how long the procedure lasts and what extra services you order.
In a salon, a fish called Garra rufa, indigenous to the Middle East performs fish pedicures on customers’ feet. Smoother feet and possibly less psoriasis are the alleged benefits, but the risks, such as infection risk and poor client sanitation, overshadow these advantages.