The thing about fish pedicures is that they tickle, like crazy. The latest fad, available regularly on GroupOn, fish pedicures consist of little tiny toothless carp eating away at the cracked and dead skin on your heels.
Banned in several states in the USA, there is no similar threat here in the UK where the chance of infection is considered to be very small. However animal rights groups are worried about the garra rufas' future well-being.
The little fishies are called Garra Rufa, and they love to nibble the hard, cracked skin through an enzyme in their saliva. Supposedly they heal psoriasis and eczema as well. Called doctor fish, they date back over 400 years to Turkey, where they are native.
Turkey has made them a protected species now because so many spas are using them. So some American spas are now using chin chin fish, but don't be tricked, they aren't as good as the garra rufas and often drop dead in the middle of the pedicure. Believe it or not, some beauty salons are going to move on from feet to full body immersion tanks. Aaaaagh.
The toothless fish, which have a life expectancy of nine years, have to be kept in water at about 30 degrees and require nutrients to supplement their diet. According to the Guardian, the concern of animal rights groups is the water quality and temperature in the tanks. It has to be kept at a stable temperature otherwise the fish could die. Clean water is important too; if people are bathing with the fish, there is a concern that their toiletries and cosmetics could leech into the water and harm the little critters. Likewise the chemicals used to clean clients' feet beforehand must be non-toxic.
One spa owner explains that clients' feet are checked before they are allowed to have the pedicure. She says "We have huge filters which work 24 hours a day and the water is being constantly filtered as you have the pedicure and there are UV lights to kill all the bacteria."
Health officials have begun an investigation, but in the mean time you can even buy your own kit on line if you are really keen...
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