Photo: Fish Pedicures, Full Body Immersion
The number of salons in England offering pedicures with Garra rufa, fish that lifts off hard skin and, through an enzyme in their saliva, diathanol, is thought to heal conditions such as psoriasis and eczema – is growing rapidly. As the popularity grows, some beauty salons are already moving on to full body immersion tanks.
But the treatment is not without controversy.
More than a dozen states in the US have banned the fish pedicures for fear of spreading infections and disease.
Animal rights groups have also voiced alarm over the conditions in which the fish are kept. “We do have concerns about the welfare of any fish involved in this practice,” a spokeswoman for the RSPCA told the Observer.
The practice of using Garra rufa fish – often called “doctor fish” – to heal skin dates back over 400 years in their native southern Turkish river basins.
Turkey’s government has now made the Garra rufa protected species over concerns about over-exploitation by spas, which has led to some outlets in the US using the chin chin, which masquerades as a Garra rufa but doesn’t do the job as well and often dies in the process.