October 14, 2014
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Foot doctor gives her take on Fish Pedicur.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Foot Health: There’s something very fishy
about these trendy pedicures, so beware

By Dr. Nicole G. Freels
KyForward columnist

Fish pedicures have become a popular trend among celebrities. Kim and Courtney Kardashian attempted their first fish pedicures while on vacation in Greece last year. Videos posted on social media by the ‘Dash sisters showed us that Courtney and Kim had different opinions about this unconventional foot treatment.

Courtney appeared to enjoy the experience but Kim was not a fan. Immediately after putting her feet into the fish-infested water, Kim shouted out that she hated it and wanted it to end.

I had a similar experience while overseas this spring. I wanted to have the pedicure to show my patients what it was all about. It was definitely a case of “nothing to write home about.” The fad experience is not worth the tradeoff, and let’s be blunt: The water was GROSS.

Yep, I’m smiling at the beginning because it does tickle, but I wanted to get out of the water soon after. This is a subject Kim and I CAN agree on.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also taken note of this pedicure fad. In May of 2012, the CDC announced that fish pedicures are dangerous because they have the potential to impose bacterial infections.

But how can tiny fish in a tub of water be harmful to humans?

Garra rufa, sometimes even referred to as ‘doctor fish,’ eat away dead skin on the foot and expose new skin. Now, more than 10 states have banned the use of fish pedicures. And here’s why:

Several factors in fish pedicures inhibit the treatment from being sanitary. Most importantly, fish cannot be disinfected. A standard pedicure treatment involves sanitizing all of the equipment used. The pedicure tubs also pose a sanitation problem because they cannot be properly cleaned with fish in them. If you have an open cut or wound on your feet or legs, this can become particularly dangerous.

Non-native species
Originally from the Middle East, Garra rufa could impose a serious threat on the American environment if released into the wild. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this unfamiliar species of fish would very likely upset the balance of the ecosystem, causing irreversible detriment.

A fish pedicure does not meet the standards of the legal definition of a pedicure. The legal system has taken measures to ban this treatment in many states, and will likely continue to take steps to prohibit it in other states as well.

Animal cruelty
Fish must be starved to eat human foot skin. Is it humane to malnourish fish so that they participate in this treatment that can also be achieved by a technician? Animal rights activists don’t think so.

Fish pedicures have proven to be nothing but dangerous, not only for those who participate in the treatment, but also for the fish themselves. Stay away from fish pedicures while they’re still around – which won’t be much longer. Go to a safe PEDspa or pedicure salon. Ask your podiatrist for suggestions.


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