Warning over fish pedicures

People with weak immune systems or underlying medical conditions are at risk of infection from fish pedicures, the Health Protection Agency has warned.

The beauty treatment sees customers place their feet in tanks of water containing tiny Garra rufa fish which nibble on dead skin. While the pampering carries a "very low" risk for healthy clients, those with conditions including diabetes and psoriasis have now been advised against it.

The pedicures - which are popular in Asia - have been banned in some US states, including Florida, Texas, New Hampshire and Washington amid fears that infections could spread through open wounds.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) today issued new guidance after a panel found fish tank water contained a number of micro-organisms and that infections could be transmitted either from fish to person (during the nibbling process), water to person (from the bacteria which can multiply in water), or person to person (via water, surrounding surfaces and the fish).

While it advised certain individuals to avoid treatment, it said any risk was "very low" for healthy clients when spas adhered to strict codes of cleanliness.

Dr Hilary Kirkbride, consultant epidemiologist at the HPA, said: "Provided that good standards of hygiene are followed by salons, members of the public are unlikely to get an infection from a fish spa pedicure, however the risk will be higher for certain people.

"This is why we feel it's important for salons to ensure the client has no underlying health conditions that could put them at risk, and that a thorough foot examination is performed to make sure there are no cuts, grazes or existing skin conditions that could spread infection."

Garra Rufa fish - a type of toothless carp - have become increasingly popular in salons across Britain, in part because of their novelty value.

Dr Paul Cosford, director of health protection services at the HPA, said the risk posed by the fish tanks could be kept to a minimum if spas followed "strict standards of cleanliness".

"If a member of the public is concerned about the level of cleanliness of a salon they visit, they should report this to their local environmental health department," he said.

Anyone considering a fish pedicure can help reduce health risks by ensuring cuts or infections on the feet or legs are given time to heal before treatment.

Clients are also urged to wait at least 24 hours after having a leg wax or shaving to minimise the chances of contracting an infection.

The HPA guidance has been endorsed by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
'I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Web Content Administrator

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Content Administrator is required ...

    SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

    Recruitment Genius: Lift and Elevator Service Manager - Birmingham

    £38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

    Circles South East Youth Service: Youth Services Volunteer

    this is an unpaid voluntary position: Circles South East Youth Service: LOOKIN...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn