Fish pedicures have become all the rage in urban India, with people flocking to spas and salons that offer this service. When you go for a fish pedicure, you are directed to place your feet in a shallow trough of water containing these fish to allow them to work their magic.
However, the real cost of these treatments could be considerably higher than you pay for, as health officials are now concerned that the practice could cause the spread of serious infections including hepatitis C.
The Dangers Of A Fish Pedicure
“Studies reported the presence of several pathogenic bacteria in fish pedicure tanks, some even posing a risk of septicaemia (blood poisoning), which can be fatal”
During a fish pedicure, the fish nibble away at dead skin on the surface without damaging the lower levels of healthy skin. The most common fish used in these treatments is the garra rufa, which is commonly known as the Doctor Fish.
In theory, this treatment might help people suffering from ulcers, psoriasis, and dermatitis, but scientists now say that fish pedicures are among those beauty treatments that cause more damage than good.
The main danger of a fish pedicure comes from fungal infections that can spread from one person to the next, especially if the water is not changed in between customers. Imagine dunking your feet in the same water as all the other customers before you… gross!
Recent studies also reported the presence of several pathogenic bacteria in fish pedicure tanks – some of these bacteria can cause severe wound infections and septicaemia (blood poisoning) which can be fatal.
Fish Pedicures & The Risk Of Viral Infections
“According to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), although the risk of HIV & hepatitis infections is very low, it cannot be ruled out completely”
Another danger from fish pedicures is the transmission of deadly blood-borne viruses, including the hepatitis B and C viruses. If an infected client has an open wound and bleeds into the tank, and the next person who uses it also has a cut or abrasion, it is possible that the virus could enter their bloodstream.
Theoretically, this could also expose you to HIV infection, but as pointed out by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the risk of getting HIV or hepatitis infections through fish pedicures is very low. However, is a fish pedicure really worth the addded risk, even if miniscule?
People Who MUST Avoid Fish Pedicure Spas
“Although risky for anyone, the risk of serious infection is even higher for diabetics & immuno-compromised patients, as well as for those on anticoagulants”
It is clear that fish pedicures pose a health risk to anyone, but some people may be at a higher risk. If you have diabetes or any health condition like HIV that weakens immunity (immuno-compromised), you are at a higher risk of getting an infection from one of these tanks.
If you are on any type of anticoagulant, which includes blood thinner medications for many heart patients, or if you have even a minor open cut or abrasion on your feet, it would be wise to give the fish pedicure a pass.
Fish pedicures pose a health risk and with questionable hygiene standards and a lack of regulation, it becomes even harder to assuage safety concerns. Even if you don’t get a serious viral infection, you are likely to come away with a skin infection. So, do yourself and your friends a favor. The next time you think of treating yourself or someone you care for to a fish pedicure, it may be better to just walk away!