Garra Rufa Fish Pedicures

The pedicure has got fishy with the introduction of Garra Rufa fish pedicures across the UK over the last 12 months. I have been familiar with this intriguing aquatic foot treatment for many years thanks to my travels in Asia where this treatment has proved very popular and I am pleasantly surprised to see tanks of Garra Rufa fish popping up in sometimes the least expected of places – most recently in the Grafton Centre in Cambridge.

You may already be familiar with the concept but for those of you who have not heard of this fish spa treatment please allow me to fill you in.

Garra Rufa fish normally live in Turkish hot springs like those found in the small town of Kangal. For centuries in the Near East, locals have been visiting such springs for one of nature’s most bizarre reversals of the food chain. The Garra Rufa fish love to feed on dead skin and have been used extensively for hundreds of years in the treatment of skin conditions.

Sometimes known as Doctor Fish, these little fish use their suction-cup mouth to delicately remove dead skin from the feet. The toothless mouth and rasp like lips of these fish mean that there is no pain involved during the treatment unlike some more traditional forms of pedicure. The exfoliation of the skin feels like a gentle massage and the fish only remove the dry dead skin on the surface of the feet without touching the soft healthy skin underneath.

Garra Rufa fish are said to stimulate acupuncture points in the foot during the pedicure and they are also believed to release a special enzyme called diathanol in their saliva which aids the regeneration and healing of the skin.

In the last couple of years, the use of Garra Rufa fish has become somewhat of a novel way to get a pedicure and they have entered the mainstream world of beauty treatments with tanks appearing in spas and salons around the world. The first Garra Rufa fish spa opened in Sheffield in early 2010.

My first experience of a Garra Rufa fish pedicure was on a holiday to Bali in Indonesia. The treatment left my feet feeling smooth and soft after the fish had nibbled off the dry skin around my heels leaving my feet looking great for flip-flops and sandals. I would definitely recommend a Garra Rufa fish pedicure to anyone who wants healthy feet that look good on show in the latest summer footwear this season.

If you’d like to try this unique pedicure for yourself, there are a couple of places in Cambridge that you can visit. Kismet Therapy Rooms in the Grafton Centre is a conveniently situated spa in central Cambridge and is reasonable priced. A 20 minute treatment only costs £15. Do as I did and finish your fish pedicure with a relaxing aromatherapy foot massage for an additional £5. The Garra Rufa fish at Kismet are very well looked after as I was told on my recent visit that each individual tank is UV filtered 17 times an hour and each tank of Garra Rufa fish are only used once every 2 hours. There are plenty of tanks available so this shouldn’t be a concern but booking is always advisable. Kismet has a policy of checking clients feet for broken skin or infections and foot spas are used before a treatment.

Skin Deep Salon is another Cambridge beauty salon where you can experience a fishy pedicure from the Garra Rufa fish. An express treatment at Skin Deep only costs £25. The salon is located in south Cambridge close to the Cambridge Leisure Centre and offers a range of treatments in addition to the fish pedicure.

In London, one of the smartest salons offering Garra Rufa fish pedicures is Aqua Sheko which claims to be London’s first fish therapy concept spa. Aqua Sheko has two salons in Kensington and Soho and the ambience is sleek oriental chic. The Soho salon offers fish hand treatments and even has a full body option for those who want to go for the all over fish therapy experience. Prices start from £30.

Fish pedicures are as controversial as they are unusual. There is a health concern debate about the possible risks associated with Garra Rufa fish pedicures. Although spa owners use ultraviolet filters in the tanks and change the water regularly, concerns have been raised about possible health risks and cross contamination. Fish pedicures have been banned in 14 states in America. However, the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) say they are currently unaware of any cases of infection linked with the use of Garra Rufa fish pedicures in Britain. HPA guidelines are due to be published in the near future following an investigation into the claims. It is recommended that you check with the spa to find out what hygiene practices are in place to prevent client infection and, if in doubt, do not feel obliged to go ahead with treatment – it is always better to be safe than sorry.

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About Alan Philippe

Describing himself as an extraordinary guy doing ordinary things, Alan Philippe is the epitome of a people's person and it's no suprise that this perfect host is a typical ESFJ. Before starting his publishing career, Alan graduated with Joint Honours from University College London having read Physiology & Pharmacology. He worked for many years in Learning & Development, although his experience spans much more than this. Indeed, he was even once a recruitment consultant although Alan says he left the Dark Side relatively unscathed! Alan Philippe has a passion for fashion, interior design and all things vintage. When he's not busy in his role as Creative Editor of City Connect, you'll find him in either socialising in his favourite hotspots, getting a culture fix in the world of Art & Theatre, following the latest fashion and design trends or simply enjoying the best that life has to offer at home and abroad. Follow him on Twitter @A1Philippe
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