Fish Spa: Does this underwater treatment beneficial or health hazard?

(credit: hitokirihoshi)

By MJ Gonzales │

Pampering is becoming cheaper these days due to mushrooming establishments that offer relaxing and beautifying promos. On top of that there are also group buying sites that feature discounted deals.  Among of the attractive offers available from them are the fish spa   treatment as it’s intriguing. Who thought that can fishes can nibble dead skins, right?

Fish spa, also called fish pedicure, is a kind of treatment where customers soak their body in a pool or tub with small fishes such as garra ruffa or doctor fish. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gara rufa are originally from Middle East and they believe to help to treat skin diseases like psoriasis.  Meantime, there are spas in the Philippines that use for Cichlid fishes that are from Africa and North America.

In an interview with BBC, Sarah Greyson from Kent proved how fish spa treatment in Turkey treated her psoriasis or an irregular condition where the skin cells changes fast.  She said her condition makes her insecure and upset because people stare at her.

“My skin is looking absolutely brilliant for the first time ever all over my body,” Greyson testified. “My skin is smooth. You can still see that I have psoriasis – but it’s pink rather than red.”

BBC reported that fish spa  worked on Greyson eat  her extra skin cells that later on let mineral water with selenium  penetrate her skin.

fish spa treatment 2 photo by hitokirihoshi
(credit: hitokirihoshi)

Meantime, there were studies that tainted the good vibe of fish spa treatment. Daily Mail reported that U.K. Health Protection Authority had research that pointed out that this spa may not advisable especially for those who suffering from diabetes, weak immune system, and even psoriasis.  In addition to these, there’s possibility that HIV and hepatitis C could pass on from clients to clients.

HPA the problem could start from the water in the tub or pool or garra ruffa fish that serve as agent to transmit disease like those with blood-borne virus hepatitis and HIV. However HPA emphasized that the probability is “extremely low.”  Thus, they advised that spa establishments to change water for every clients.

“We have issued this guidance because there are a growing number of these spas,” HPA‘s spokesman shared. ‘When the correct hygiene procedures are followed, the risk of infection is very low. However, there is still a risk of transmission of a number of infections — this does include viruses like HIV and hepatitis.’

In Florida, Texas, Washington, and New Hampshire are no more allowed. Meanwhile, Dermatological Society Thailand also warned their public about the risks in this treatment.

“Let’s just put it this way: when we medical practitioners clean a patient’s wound, we use sterilized medical tools for every patient and we won’t reuse them with the next patient for infection-control reasons,” Assoc Prof Nopadon Noppakun shared via Bangkok Post’s report.

“A customer steps into the spa water and if, unfortunately, he or she happens to have an infectious wound, the infection can definitely spread to other people who step into that very same spa tank.”