18 October 2011
The risk of infection associated with Garra rufa fish pedicures is likely to be very low, Health Protection Agency (HPA) scientists said today.
Following a number of enquiries to the HPA from local environmental health practitioners, a multi-agency working group was established to produce guidance for this spa treatment. The working group was led by the HPA and included experts from the HPA, Health Protection Scotland, the Health & Safety Laboratory and local authorities. The guidance has been endorsed by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland.
Fish tank water has been shown to contain a number of microorganisms. Therefore, in a fish spa setting there is the potential for transmission of a range of infections, either from fish to person (during the nibbling process), water to person (from the bacteria that can multiply in water), or person to person (via water, surrounding surfaces and fish). However, the overall risk of infection is likely to be very low, if appropriate standards of hygiene are adhered to.
The fish spa working group concluded that those 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. The working group advised that operators of fish spas should not promote treatment to these groups.
“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 minimise your chances of catching anything. If you do experience any ill effects after the treatment, you should visit your
Notes to Editors
Last reviewed: 18 October 2011