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Pedicures a bit fishy says French health agency

Ben McPartland · 25 Apr 2013, 14:21

Published: 25 Apr 2013 14:21 GMT+02:00

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Unless there was a stray piranha in the tank or you happened to fall in, the increasingly popular practice of having a "fish pedicure" does not appear at first glance to offer any serious health threat,

The pedicures, in which you immerse your feet in a water tank and allow dozens of tiny Garra rufa or "doctor" fish to eat away at the dead skin, has long been popular in the Far East of Asia, but in recent years the craze has taken off in France.

Although the pampering treatment seems harmless enough, France’s National Safety Agency (Agence National de Securité, ANSES) is not convinced and believes it is not without health risk.

The government body is recommending that the practice is supervised and firm safeguards put in place.

“Although no documented cases have been reported so far, we cannot eliminate the risk of transmission of germs or bacteria, some of which are resistant to antibiotics,” said Gérard Lasfargues, Deputy Director of ANSES.

“Fish pedicures” first started appearing in France back in 2010 and have grown in popularity with hundreds of health or beauty salons now equipped with tanks to be able to offer the treatment.

With fish eating the skin off various people's feet, concerns have been raised in the past over fears that the fish could pass on infections and even diseases like HIV.

The issue for the health agency in France is that the practice is still not subject to specific health rules or guidelines.

Story continues below…

Lasfargues believes some users are more vulnerable than others, particularly those with diabetes, weak immune systems, and anyone with a wound on the skin.

The agency wants a mandatory review of the quality of the water in the tanks, which cannot be disinfected because it would kill the fish.

ANSES is also recommending that more information be made available to the public about the “fish pedicures” which are actually banned in several states in the US and in Canada.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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