Forget pumice stones and scrubs, fish are the new skin-smoother of choice at a growing number of spas worldwide.
discovered in a thermal spring in Turkey,
“nibble fish” or “doctor fish” suck away dry, dead skin with their toothless
mouths, making them a favourite treatment among psoriasis and eczema patients.
Since the temperature of their native hot springs does not allow for high
levels of nutrients, the fish seek out human skin as an easy food source.
In the past
few years, the specialized species have been exported to nearly every continent
for use in “fish
pedicures”, where about 150 carp chow down on a client’s feet for 15 to 30
minutes. The pedicures have become especially commonplace in Asia, with fish
spas popping up everywhere from the Singapore Changi Airport to
the Pavilion Mall in Kuala Lumpur.
become more adventurous, places like Wayan Village in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Soles Fish Spa in Hertfordshire, UK, and Fisho Spa in Phuket, Thailand, are offering full-body treatments
where 800 critters can nibble even those hard-to-reach places. Full-body tanks
are often in full-view, so bathing suits are usually required.
providers sanitize the tanks with UV light or change the water after each
treatment, but the fish themselves cannot be cleaned like more traditional spa tools,
so some regions have questioned the safety of the practice. Several US states
and Canadian provinces have banned fish
pedicures , claiming the treatment is unsanitary and may spread infection,
and the UK also launched an
investigation into the possible health implications, though no official
bans have been issued.
As for the
rest of the world, business is going along just swimmingly.