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The pedicure that will catch you hook, line and sinker. It might sound like a fish out of water when compared to other beauty treatments, but the traditional Turkish therapy for skin diseases has spread among Eastern countries and is now available in the UK and US. And although of a pack of cold-blooded creatures nibbling at your feet might not sound like the most relaxing respite, fans claim it will rid you of any dead skin cells lurking on your soles and leave your feet in a renewed state of softness - think of it as modern microdermabrasion.
The piscatorial pedicure process varies from region to region but essentially, it involves immersing your feet into a tub of warm water filled with about 100 tiny toothless carp called gurra rufa. A native Turkish fish, also referred to as doctor fish, thrive in warm water and live off anything available – including dead, flaking skin. They don't have teeth so whilst calluses and other stubborn ailments are gnawed at, healthy skin is left untouched.
After 15 to 30 minutes of acting as human fish food, you’ll be asked to remove your fresh-water feet from the tank and you’ll be treated to a more standardised pedicure, made easier by the soft skin the fish doctors leaves behind. This will usually consist of a foot massage and scrub followed by a nail trimming and toe polishing if so required.
Any fear you might have about the hungry fish should dissolve into fits of laughter as the treatment is described as having more of a ticking sensation rather than anything painful. Some even draw a comparison to your feet falling asleep and if you can get past the fact that fish are snacking on your tootsies, you might just end up with the best pedicure of your life.
Traditionally, doctor fish have been used to treat skin diseases. They live and breed in the outdoor pools of some Turkish spas and feed on the skin of patients with psoriasis. They consume the affected areas of the skin, leaving the healthy skin to grow. In the US, athletes who have never been able to rid their feet of calluses also claim the little fish to be the first to achieve the feat.
The unorthodox treatment was adapted from Turkish techniques and is a natural alternative to potentially unsanitary razors, clippers or pumice stones. In countries where fish pedi’s are popular, people often soak their whole bodies in baths full of fish.