Having a Fish Pedicure (or Fish Spa) is something I’ve never done… but as a spa treatment they seem to be all the rage! Whether you are away on holidays in a foreign land, or at an upmarket health spa, a fish pedicure appears to be a real luxury. So whilst strolling through the Central Market Kuala Lumpur, we decided to give it a go! But it wasn’t all that I expected!
No matter where you are in the world, when the warm weather arrives, women all over rush to have their toes and feet made pretty for sandal season. But a pedicure isn’t all about pretty nails… as much as we might not like to talk about it, rough, dry, cracking skin on our feet is well, pretty ugly! Removing rough, dead skin and calluses is something most of us face, and something a good pedicure can help with.
As we make our way through Asia, the weather has been really warm, which of course means plenty of time in sandals and thongs. All of our feet have taken a bit of a battering, and whilst the men in the family certainly wouldn’t be lining up for a spa treatment, we recently tried a new method of treating our feet. Walking through Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market, we discovered Fish Pedicures, at the aptly named “Cute Fish Spa”!
What is a fish pedicure?
A fish pedicure is a wonderful alternative to a traditional pedicure. Gone are the lotions, the buffing with a pumice stone or even the use of a metal foot file. A pedicure with fish is simply a matter of letting tiny little fish, known as garra rufa fish, or doctor fish, nibble away at the dead skin.
Fish that eat dead skin? OK, I get that it could sound a little strange, but fish spa treatments are super popular, and of course we’ve heard of them, but never had a go. So at only 10 MYR ($USD2.45/$AUD3.28) for 15 minutes, why would we not have a go!
What is a fish pedicure like?
A fish pedicure is actually quite enjoyable, if not a little ticklish. At Cute Fish Spa, our fish therapy offered a choice of two tanks. In the middle of the picture above it shows a large central tank, with a smaller tank running the length of the right hand wall. The wall tank had the smaller fish I was expecting to see, whilst the central tank had fish much larger than I was really comfortable with.
But in we went. Not one to try anything half-heartedly I opted for the bigger fish… hey, if they’re going to have any sort of effect, my theory was the bigger the better! Makes sense right? What I didn’t anticipate was just how much they would tickle when they began sucking on my feet. And boy oh boy am I ticklish!
My squealing and laughing was quite amusing to the other patrons. As my Dad and Brody dunked their feet in and sat there like a pair of pros, the slightest little touch sent me into fits of laughter. With my precious minutes ticking away I decided the larger fish had gotten the better of me, so tested my will power against the smaller fish, with much more success I might add!
After a few minutes the ticklish feeling subsided and a tingling, pins and needles feeling took over, and it was at that point that I braved the bigger fish, and this time succeeded… go you good fish, eating dead skin and restoring my tired, dry feet!
Does a fish pedicure really work?
In what felt like about 5 minutes, our time was up. The staff presented us with sheets of paper towel and in broken English told us “time up”. I can’t say I ever expected to have enjoyed experiencing fish that eat dead skin, sucking their way around my feet, but surprisingly, I was a bit sad when my time was up.
As I dried my feet and studied the results I was truly surprised. A fish foot spa actually works! The difference in my feet was simply incredible. I’m wishing now that I’d taken before and after photos, as proof of the results. But let me just say, I walked away with feet that felt incredibly clean, and without all the dry, cracking skin that I’d arrived with.
Is a fish spa safe?
The first thing we should clear up is that Garra Rufa fish do not have teeth. Therefore, they can’t bite, or break skin – they simply suck the skin of your feet. This is naturally a concern for many when they first hear of fish that eat dead skin on feet, but a fish spa with Garra Rufa fish is certainly not something to be afraid of!
As for other health concerns, a fish pedicure, for the most part, is considered quite safe, providing the spa operator maintains good standards of hygiene. Fish tank water may contain a number of microorganisms, so there is the potential to contract a range of infections, either from fish to person, water to person or person to person, passed on by the water or the fish. However, the Health Protection Agency has stated that the overall risk of infection is likely to be very low. Always choose a fish spa that advertises a full filtration unit, and if you have any doubts, by all means ask them how often they change the water!
Would I recommend a fish pedicure?
Not only would I recommend a fish spa, but I’ve been back 3 more times, and can genuinely say that my feet are nicer than they’ve been in years. So yes, a fish pedicure not only works but in my experience, it does a better job than any pedicure or lotion I’ve ever tried.
So if you ever find yourself face to face with fish that eat dead skin, don’t hesitate. Jump in (but don’t squish the fish) and relax, let those suckers do their work and enjoy your fish pedicure experience!