Why is pedicure with Garra Rufa fish dangerous?


Foot peeling with Garra Rufa fish is a new procedure for us. But in the East, this method of «pedicure» is at the peak of popularity. And despite all the warnings of doctors, many fans of SPA procedures, when they come to Thailand, go to “recovery” in aquariums inhabited by small gray fish. We will discuss with MedAboutMe specialists what contraindications the procedure has and what precautions salon clients should take.

Why such popularity?

Why such popularity?

This now fish-peeling is for the most part just a cosmetic procedure. But already for 5 centuries in the eastern countries, Garra Rufa fish have been actively used in alternative medicine for the treatment of psoriasis and eczema. According to supporters of non-traditional methods of treatment, the repetition of procedures for six months guarantees a stable remission of the disease.

Many of the spas in Turkey, Egypt, Thailand offer tourists such «exotics». Moreover, private owners install aquariums from Garra Rufa even on the beaches — you can see a whole stream of people who want to “clean” their legs and even their whole body. And is it possible to stop vacationers with precautionary measures? No, their goal is to bring maximum impressions from your vacation. Many do not even think about contraindications to the procedure and compliance with sanitary standards in institutions.

And now salons where clients are offered the fish-peeling service are opening all over the world. The procedure is finding more and more fans — the very idea of ​​\u200b\u200bpedicure with fish intrigues and fascinates.

Who are Garra Rufa?

Garra Rufa are small, nondescript gray fish. In their natural environment, they live in the waters of the Middle East. Fish feed on plankton and the remains of organic matter that covers the skin of whales. And in contact with human skin, Garra Rufa «work» on the same principle — they eat pollution from the cover.

Garra Rufa means «doctor fish» in Turkish. And this is quite justified — in the saliva of these fish there is a special component that promotes the healing of micro-wounds on the skin. And the mucus that is released from the body of the fish also has a beneficial effect on the cover.

No, the fish won’t bite your fingers off if you put your feet in the aquarium — they don’t have teeth to hurt you. Their oral cavity — like sandpaper removes dead skin cells from the cover.

How is the salon procedure?

How is the salon procedure?

Fish peeling, regardless of which salon you signed up for the procedure, goes through one “scenario”:

  • A couple of days before the session, it is not recommended to treat the legs with creams. This can make it difficult for the fish to «work» to cleanse the skin.
  • A specialist (ideally a dermatologist) should examine the client’s feet for open sores. If there are any, the session will have to be postponed.
  • Pre-steaming of the legs gives a good effect — Garra Rufa will be easier to “gnaw” exactly the softened skin. Feet should be washed with soap before the procedure. In some salons, a disinfectant is additionally applied to the cover.
  • Ankle-deep feet are lowered into an aquarium inhabited by fish — the process begins.

Judging by the reviews of those who have already «experienced» the procedure, the sensations of peeling are pleasant and relaxing — no pain.

As a rule, the salon procedure of «fish» peeling takes 10-30 minutes. At least 300 fish should “flutter” above your feet to get the desired effect. On average, in Moscow salons, a session costs 500-1000 rubles for 30 minutes.

Clean skin after fish peeling: arguments «for»

Clean skin after fish peeling: arguments

Fish peeling is considered a safe and non-allergic procedure. At least that’s what the owners of the salons that offer this service say. What effect can the procedure give?

  • Cover cells regenerate faster under the action of the enzyme secreted by Garra Rufa.
  • The skin becomes soft and velvety. Of course, a beauty session will not get rid of “old” calluses and corns, but the feet will become much softer.
  • Acupressure foot massage is provided, which is good for overall well-being.
  • Light tingling, which is felt when the fish touches the skin, relaxes.

And although this exotic procedure is extremely pleasant and helps to make the feet smooth, it is also worth considering the arguments against.

What’s the catch?

What's the catch?

The fish-peeling procedure, which is so popular all over the world today, causes serious concern on the part of physicians. Experts find such sessions potentially harmful to health. And these concerns are mainly related to hygiene during the procedure.

In a number of US states, fish peeling is prohibited at the legislative level! And in the United Arab Emirates, a warning was issued by the Ministry of Health about the potential harm of such a pedicure. There is only one argument — the use of fish for cosmetic procedures can be harmful to health, since «animal» often becomes a carrier of serious diseases and infections — including HIV and hepatitis.

Delicate and velvety skin of the feet after peeling with Garra Rufa fish, wound healing, no risks — all this is ideal! This technique has many disadvantages:

  • The risk of meeting «evil» fish

There is a huge demand for Garra Rufa fish now. In addition, their export from Turkey is prohibited. And the Russian market is often supplied with «fake» living creatures — chin-chin fish. The name is very conditional — none of the domestic aquarists knows for sure what kind of species it is. Outwardly, Chin-Chin are similar to Garra Rufa, only they have teeth. The leg will not be bitten off, but with a high degree of probability they will leave injuries on the cover, which significantly increases the risk of infection. Are you sure that you need such a deep peeling?

  • Risk of infection

After a cosmetic pedicure, all instruments are thoroughly disinfected. But you can’t disinfect fish in any way! It turns out that they first «ate» the legs of the previous client and immediately proceeded to your feet — if there are deep cracks and wounds on the cover, the risk of catching an infection that remains in the mouth of the fish increases.

The risk of infection is not minimized even if the water in the aquarium is changed every day — dozens of pairs of other people’s legs can visit the tank in just one change. Toward the end of the day, the aquarium is full of harmful microorganisms, because Garra Rufa does not have a stomach — the “eaten” pieces of skin immediately end up in the water.

  • No control

There are no clearly established norms and official requirements for working with the Garra Rufa themselves and with the equipment for their maintenance. Due to the novelty in the Russian market, there is no control over the procedures by the SES! All responsibility lies with the salon. Are you sure that in a particular institution they carefully monitor the content of «workers»?

How to protect yourself?

How to protect yourself?

Despite all the warnings of doctors, clients of beauty salons and tourists on vacation abroad, fascinated by the name «fish peeling» alone, sometimes forget about all the precautions. Decided to “clean” your feet with Garra Rufa? Pay attention to the following points:

  • Look the fish in the eye

Garra Rufa is easy to distinguish from «fakes»! Be sure to inspect the fish before giving your legs to the «eaten» fish. Garra Ruf has a mouth just below the eyes — and it is not sharp like a chin-chin, but rounded.

  • The procedure should be «one-time»

Ideally, you should dip your feet into an aquarium with «new» fish! That is, after each client, the aquarium must be “renewed” — clean water, other fish. To minimize the risks of infection, ask a specialist to do this in front of you — a self-respecting institution will not refuse such a “whim”.

  • Preview

If your feet were not examined for wounds and skin damage before the procedure, run away! This means that other clients did not pass the «screening» — the risk of infection increases.

No “dangers” scare you, and have you already signed up for a fish peeling at a beauty salon? Specialists must necessarily voice contraindications to the procedure — skin cancer, thrombophlebitis, lupus erythematosus, psoriatic neuroderma, wound opening and ulcers on the cover. If all the rules of the session are followed, the risks are minimized. Do fish peeling only in a salon that has been proven in the salon! But beauty sessions, which are often offered right on resort beaches, should be abandoned — sanitary standards are definitely not met here.

Expert comment

Grigoryeva Elena Yurievna, dermatocosmetologist

My opinion about fish peeling is very ambivalent. I find this procedure not entirely hygienic. There are many other, safer, ways to get rid of rough skin on the feet.

This procedure, if you have chosen this method of foot care, should be carried out only in specialized centers where the patient is previously examined for the presence of fungal and viral diseases.

According to the standards and sanitary norms, everything that comes into direct contact with the patient’s skin during any procedures must be pre-sterilized and treated with at least a 3-level instrument cleaning system. Fish by themselves are not carriers of infections. The carrier may be the very environment of their content, since, in addition to fungal infections, there are also viral ones. But the water purification system, alas, is not so perfect as to create a sterile environment — completely safe for the patient and comfortable for the life of the fish.

Expert comment

Kirova Antonina Mikhailovna, dermatologist, cosmetologist, trichologist

Ichthyotherapy (or fish therapy), which was first practiced in Turkey, has now appeared in beauty salons in large Russian cities. This technique can be dangerous for clients, especially those with chronic skin conditions.

What troubles can the client expect? First, is it really Garra Rufa fish. They are often given as fake fish from China, which can injure the skin. Secondly, fish carry infections, and it is not completely known what they carry. Like any organism, they have their own flora (parasites, fungus), and it is impossible to disinfect the fish themselves. Thirdly, fish-spa is a private business. The use of clean water for each client, certificates and documents for fish, SES control — all this depends on the conscientiousness of the owners of the institution to which you apply for this fashionable service.

Referring to international experience: in the USA, a ban on the use of Garra Rufa fish has been introduced in many states, and the Department of Health of the United Arab Emirates has published official information about the dangers of fish-spa.

In any case, your health is in your hands, and if you doubt the need for any procedures and manipulations, consult a specialist.


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