BEAUTY NEWS: What Is A Fish Pedicure Treatment And Is It Really Safe?

BEAUTY NEWS: What Is A Fish Pedicure Treatment And Is It Really Safe?

What better way to slough off rough patches and dry skin on your feet than by having fish do all the dirty work? That’s right! Fish pedicures (as they are called) have been around since early 2007 and 2008, as USA Today reported, with the procedure first gaining attention at a spa in northern Virginia. The owner of the Yvonne Hair and Nails salon, John Ho, bragged about the rather unique take on the usual pedicure stating that, “This is a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet.”

The price is right at a reasonable thirty-five dollars for a fifteen minute session, with the nail technician in question being fish. But not just any type of fish: garra rufa are known as doctor fish, first used in Turkey before quickly spreading to Asia; they are the more aquatic, and in some people’s opinion “safer,” alternative to those metal razors usually used to take off calluses and rough, dry skin.

Although the news at first was exciting and a bit peculiar, beautynistas were eating this spa-perience up — putting one’s feet in a pool and having the tickling sensation of fish eating at the dead skin. Fast forward to present day and the once trendy beauty procedure has gotten some backlash. The fact of the matter is: Are these fish spreading bacteria to the feet of spa-goers? And, if so, is this something really to worry about? ABC News reported back in May of this year that British scientists became concerned with the health of those undergoing this procedure, especially to be mindful of those who have open sores or cuts, unintentionally spreading potential infections including HIV and hepatitis. David W. Verner-Jeffreys, lead author of the report for ABC News explained to viewers that, “The most important thing to stress at this point is that the U.K. Health Protection Authority (HPA) considers the human health risks to be very low, and we would not want your readers to be unduly alarmed by our findings.”

Scientists also conducted a study back in April 2011 examining the “spa fish” being exported to British salons and found that the fish were carrying Streptococcus agalactiae — a bacteria that can cause pneumonia and other infections in bones, joints and blood. Although there have only been a few reported infections in Britain, there have been no similar accounts in the United States — save for a few reported scars or boils after a session.

With the issue centering around sanitization, health of the fish and cleanliness, ten states have banned the fish pedicure for insufficiently meeting proper standards. So, although the fish pedicure does get the job done, the cons may leave some spa goers a little wary. What do you guys think about the fish pedicure? Would you get it done? Have you? If so, let us know and comment below!

– Theresa Romano

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