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The scariest truth about fish pedicures

 Photo; Courtesy

Just the other day I was offered an opportunity to have a fish pedicure. I was too scared to even attempt it but it got me thinking about the risks involved. So here's what you need to know about fish pedicures.

Fish pedicures are beauty treatments that use dozens of tiny fish to nibble away dead and hardened skin from the feet. During a session, a person immerses their feet in a tank of warm water and lets the minute, toothless Garra rufa fish, nibble away for around 15 to 30 minutes.

The fish are said only to eat dead skin, although there are some anecdotal reports that they can break the skin if they nibble too deep.

Fish pedicures have long been used as beauty treatments in Turkey and the Far East, but have only recently been introduced to Kenya.

Other species of fish, such as Chin chin fish, should not be used to perform pedicures as they develop teeth when they get older, and may therefore present a greater risk to public health.

Another risk is that the pedicure tubs cannot be sufficiently cleaned between customers, and the same fish nibble tens of customers because they are too pricey to replace often.

To be on the safe side, look out for the general look and feel of the beauty salon. If it looks shabby or dirty, then it is probably not a good idea to put your feet into their Garra rufa fish tank. If the water in the tank does not look clear and fresh, or if the fish do not look healthy, don't put your feet in.

It's important to check whether the salon has a policy regarding people who have fungal foot infections, as ideally they should not be offering Garra rufa fish pedicures to customers whose feet are infected. Each customer's feet should be cleaned before they are placed in the tank.

Ideally, salons should provide each of their clients with a separate tank to put their feet in, which would be more hygienic than having one, large communal tank.



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