Fish Nibbling Pedicures Could Spread Infection, Say Experts

01/03/2011 15:52 | Updated 22 May 2015

fish-spa-pedicure-infection-riskNibbling fish could spread infection, say health experts. Photo: Getty Images, Peter Macdiarmid

Fish pedicures may be the latest must-have treatment at salons and spas around the UK, but they could be under threat if an investigation by the Health Protection Agency confirms fears that they're a health risk.

The pedicures, which are popular in Asia, involve scores of tiny fish - called Garra rufa fish - nibbling at the dead skin on your feet. The fish, also known as 'doctor' fish, are toothless carp that come from Turkey. And as well as nibbling the dead skin from your feet, they are thought to produce a natural enzyme that cleans and heals the skin called diathanol.

But health experts aren't too sure, claiming there could be problems with fish passing on skin infections from one pedicure customer to another. In fact, the pedicures have already been banned in some US states, including Florida, Texas, New Hampshire and Washington, because of fears they might help spread infections.

The HPA is investigating any potential risks of infection associated with the fish after receiving enquiries from a number of local environmental health officers. However, it has stated there haven't been any reported cases of infection in the UK to date.

After appearing on the TV show The Only Way is Essex fish pedicures are more popular in the UK than ever and are available at salons on many high streets. After up to half an hour with your feet in the fish tank, you receive a standard pedicure. Many who have tried it say it leaves your feet feeling baby smooth.

Have you had the fish nibbling pedicure? Tell us what it was like.

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