Have you ever seen a tank full of fish, seemingly “eating” customer’s feet and legs while they just sit back and enjoy the experience? This particular species of fish is known as “Doctor Fish” (Garra rufa) and it’s commonly used as an alternative part of psoriasis treatment and in spa settings. One of the newer studies show that a certain enzyme in fish’s saliva helps with skin regeneration and thus provides a positive effect on patients suffering from psoriasis.
But what do these fish eat in nature? Surely it’s not dead skin from people’s legs! Or is it?
Garra rufa fish is usually found inhabiting hot springs in wilderness of the Middle East, where it actually feeds on aufwuchs, a collection of various plants and small animals that collect and grow on rocks. This is what the fish is actually looking for while eating dead skin from your legs!
Fish spas: The good.
One of the most common reasons for choosing this weird treatment is to get rid of dead skin that’s been collecting on feet and calfs. In other cases, people just want to experience this new way of relaxation and simply enjoy having dozens of fish nibbling at their feet, giving a feeling of dozens little fingers scratching their feet and calfs. For some, this provides a very relaxing way to spend half an hour or so while getting some of health benefits.
Fish spas: The bad.
What most spa owners will not tell you is that they starve the fish on purpose to keep them hungry enough to “attack” legs of the customers as soon as they go in the tank. For some, that’s enough reason to avoid this type of treatment altogether. Unfortunately, this is not the only bad news.
Fish spas: The Ugly.
Since the fish basically lives in the aquarium, the water inside of it cannot be properly sterilized and cleaned between usages. Guess who uses this type of spa the most? People with feet conditions, like athlete’s foot and different types of fungus.
Not only there is a possibility of getting infected directly through water, but it’s possibly for fish to transfer it from one customer to another while they’re getting rid of the dead skin. Some even say there is a chance of transmitting even more serious diseases and conditions this way.
We hope we cleared some of the good and bad things about using fish foot spas in general. It’s up to you to decide whether or not the risks are worth doing it, not to mention the ethical concern. If you still decide to go for it, our recommendation is to do it in a clinic who specialize in this kind of treatment, changes the water in aquarium after every customer and rotates the fish inside.