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Are Fish Pedicures Safe? Delving into the Depths of Safety Concerns

While fish pedicures may offer some benefits, such as skin exfoliation and improved blood circulation, they come with significant safety concerns

New Delhi: Fish pedicures have gained immense popularity in recent times, with social media flooded with posts of individuals indulging in this trendy spa treatment. Many establishments feature tubs filled with Red Garra fish, commonly known as doctor fish or nibble fish.

What exactly is a fish pedicure?

It entails immersing your feet in a water-filled tub teeming with Garra fish. During this process, the fish delicately consume dead skin cells, leaving your feet feeling smooth and refreshed. Fish spas have gained traction due to their gentle exfoliating and softening effects on the feet. Though it can be a tad ticklish, it is not a painful procedure. Many people partake in this spa experience for fun, but the paramount question is, is it safe?

Safety concerns

Image from a Woman’s case report who lost six of her toenails after a fish pedicure session

1. When these pedicure tubs are brimming with fish, it becomes challenging to thoroughly disinfect them between customers, and the fish themselves cannot be sanitized. What’s more, the accumulation of waste from the fish in the same water is highly unhygienic.

2. Furthermore, you cannot ascertain whose feet occupied the tub before you. If a person with a skin ailment preceded you, there is a risk of disease transmission.

3. While your feet will indeed undergo exfoliation, achieving smooth skin may still necessitate the use of a pumice stone. The fish lack the expertise to discern your specific skin needs.

4. It’s not uncommon for individuals to experience uneven, bumpy skin and, in some cases, deep bites that draw blood, posing potential health risks.

5. These tubs serve as breeding grounds for bacteria and infections. Even minor cuts, wounds, or sores can exacerbate due to the bacterial presence in these environments.

6. The Garra fish themselves harbour various infection-causing bacteria, including Streptococcus agalactiae, which can lead to pneumonia.

7. Moreover, Garra fish carry bacteria not typically found on your skin. Should these bacteria enter your bloodstream, your immune system could be compromised, potentially resulting in skin, nail, and even severe bone infections.

Benefits of fish pedicures

While fish pedicures offer some benefits, such as smoother and more beautiful skin, exfoliation of dry and rough patches, and improved blood circulation, similar results can be achieved at local salons and spas through regular pedicures, often yielding superior outcomes.

It is worth noting that fish spas have been banned in numerous places, including Texas, New York, New Jersey, California, Washington, Massachusetts, and Maine, due to their associated side effects and illegal fish importation. The transportation process itself often leads to fish fatalities, and the act of fish feeding on human skin is ethically concerning.

Dermatologists generally discourage the use of fish spa pedicures. Therefore, the next time you consider a fish spa experience, please bear these safety concerns in mind.


While fish pedicures may offer some benefits, such as skin exfoliation and improved blood circulation, they come with significant safety concerns. Issues like the inability to sanitize the tubs and the risk of disease transmission, along with the ethical concerns surrounding fish treatment, have led to their banning in several places. Dermatologists do not generally recommend fish spa pedicures, suggesting that individuals seek alternative methods for foot care and relaxation.