I’m sure by now most of you have heard of the fish spa. If you have, or if you’re reading about it here intrigued and want to partake, then let me warn you. You could easily be contracting a disease the minute you put your feet into the tank.
This craze has swept from across the world – it came from Turkey, stopped briefly on an episode of Ugly Betty and hit the high street (including our own Limerick City) with a plunge. These little fish, called Gurra Rufa, eat the dead or infected skin of a person’s foot. It is sometimes popular among people who have eczema or psoriasis – not that it’s a recommended medical treatment.
It seemed amazing that putting your feet into a tank of water filled with tiny, little, flesh-eating fish left your feet supple. And personally, I cheered for joy when I saw such a salon come to Limerick. But then I asked myself, and now I am asking you, would you use a treatment that has been banned in 14 states in the U.S?
Standard regulation in all salons is that they must sanitise or throw out tools after being used on a patient. But in this case you can’t exactly sanitise the fish, and their too expensive to throw away. For all you know, you could be letting fish chomp away at your skin when they’ve just been chomping on an infected foot. Most fish spa’s will check and inspect the feet of patients, but who’s to say they’re 100% legit? What disease one man had on his foot you could be getting on yours.
Currently the Health Protection Agency is investigating the treatment and sanity risks. But until the filed report is released, I’m not risking my own feet to find out.