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Are fish pedicures safe?

health and fitness Updated: Oct 22, 2011 02:37 IST
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Fish pedicures — a controversial procedure involving dunking your feet into a tank of water containing dozens of tiny Garra Rufa fish that nibble on dead skin — were deemed safe by UK officials this week amid complaints that the treatments may cause infections.

Fish pedicures, which have been popular in Asia for years, have been a hot spa trend around the rest of the globe, although the treatment is banned in some US states, including Florida and Texas, for fears that infections could spread through open wounds.

pedicureThe Health Protection Agency (HPA) in the UK just issued new guidance after a panel found fish tank water contained a number of micro-organisms and that infections could be transmitted in myriad ways -- from fish to person, water to person, or person to person.

Still, the HPA advised that the risks are "very low" when spas adhere to strict cleanliness procedures. People with weak immune systems or underlying medical conditions are at greater risk, they warned. If you fall in this category, avoid fish pedicures. If you’re curious about trying one, ensure there are no cuts or infections on your feet before the treatment. Also, wait at least 24 hours after having a leg wax or shaving to minimise the chances of contracting an infection.