The fish pedicure
hasn't been in the news much lately, but it's far from forgotten. The idea of tiny fish nibbling off the dead skin of off human feet seems to spur a visceral reaction in a lot of people.
We found what we think is the first formal scientific study of the safety of the fish pedicure. The U.K.'s Health Protection Agency (HPA)
"Guidance on the Management of Public Health Risks from Fish Pedicures" was released this month.
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.
“Anyone considering a fish pedicure can help reduce the risk of infection -- both to themselves and others -- by taking simple precautions. Allowing any cuts or infections you may have on your feet or legs to heal before having the treatment, and waiting at least 24 hours after having a leg wax or shaving, will minimize your chances of catching anything. If you do experience any ill effects after the treatment, you should visit your GP.”
Dr Paul Cosford, Director of Health Protection Services at the HPA, added: “As with any beauty salon, it’s really important that strict standards of cleanliness are followed, to ensure that the risk of infection is kept to a minimum.”
For salons who offer the fish pedicure, the report has a lot of suggestions for minimizing health risk. This includes washing (with soap) and drying the client's feet before letting her put them in the fish soak. Having the client fill our a written form prior to the service to see if she's aware of any contraindictions to the service (and if she does or if she's uncertain to not let her have the service without a note from her physician). Also, the report recommends having the salon staff trained in the basic care and welfare of fish.
Clients with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions, including diabetes and psoriasis, are likely to be at increased risk of infection and so fish pedicures are not recommended for such individuals.
You can read the report in its entirety here
What do you think? Does this report allay your fears? If your state allows fish pedicures (at least Texas, Washington, and Florida banned them), have you considered adding it to your salon menu?