Fish pedicure

Ok, I guess I don’t get out enough.  I just learned that fish pedicures have been all the rage in Asia for a number of years – first making their appearance in the US in 2008.


What is a fish pedicure anyway?

In case you are as ignorant as I am about the topic, here’s the scoop.  Doctor fish (Garra rufa) are tiny toothless carp that inhabit hot springs and river basins in such places as Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.  According to Wikipedia, the use of fish to clean wounds and remove dead skin – ichthyotherapy – has been around for a long time. In fact, there is a well-known spa in Kangal, Turkey, where for years people with skin diseases, like psoriasis and eczema, have gone to have the damaged, dead skin removed by these little Nibblers.

Because they thrive in hot water, they are the perfect fish to use for pedicures. About a 100 of these little fishies are placed in a pedicure bath that you put your feet in.  The fish swarm to your feet and then they start nibbling away the dead skin. Clients say it tickles.


Replacement for razors?

John Ho, the owner of the Yvonne Hair and Nail Salon in northern Virginia – said to be one of the first salon’s in the US to offer this treatment, claims that  fish pedicures are “a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet.” You can get 25 minutes of Dr. Fish therapy at Yvonne Salon followed by a traditional pedicure for only $65…such a deal.

In an interview in USA Today, Ho said he developed his Dr. Fish offering as a replacement for using razors to scrape off the dead skin on his customers’ feet. Razors “have fallen out of favor with state regulators” because of concerns about whether they are sanitary.


The regulators weigh in

Cosmetology regulators have also been leery of Fish Pedicures (and other forms of Dr. Fish ichthyotherapy, such as total body immersion). The practice is banned in several American states as well as Canadian provinces. The Wall Street Journal stated that “cosmetology regulations generally mandate that tools need to be discarded or sanitized after each use.  But epidermis-eating fish are too expensive to throw away.”

Pretty funny, huh?

If you liked this post, you may want to read:  “Fat toes?  Did you know you can now get toe liposuction?”




  1. When I was in Bali in January I saw the tanks set and folks with their feet in the water with the little fish. The folks with their feet in the tank said it was great. They said they experienced a little tickle and said it was different than anything they’d ever experienced. Here’s to a new experience.

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