For healthy feet, see Doctor Fish

A good pedicure can be healthy for body and spirit… but how would you feel about having ‘doctor fish’ rid your feet of unseemly scaly skin?

Creepy as it may sound, the latest in offbeat spa treatments involves plunging your feet into a tank of water and allowing hundreds of tiny carp nibble away at foot calluses and dead skin.

Offered at a spa in the Washington DC area, the treatment consists of having toothless fish — a type of carp called garra rufa but often referred to as ‘doctor fish’ — rid your feet of dead skin while leaving healthy flesh untouched. According to advocates, it is a natural alternative to potentially unsanitary razors or pumice stones.

John Ho, owner of the northern Virginia-based Yvonne Hair and Nails salon, told the Associated Press that he was initially skeptical about offering the technique, which is popular in spas in Turkey as well as parts of Japan, China, Singapore and Malaysia where fish therapy is used to treat psoriasis and other skin ailments.

“I know people were a little intimidated at first,” Ho said. “But I just said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.'”

The treatment apparently caught on, with initially reluctant clients reporting that the procedure felt “ticklish” or even “relaxing”. And now according to news reports, a second US spa in Columbus, Ohio now offers the fishy pedicures.

The fish pedicurists, which originally hail from Turkey, thrive in hot water that doesn’t support much plant or aquatic life, Ho said. Because of this, they learned to feed on whatever food sources were available, which includes dead, flaking skin. Since the fish don’t have teeth, healthy skin remains untouched.

View a news report of fish pedicures.

Keep your feet healthy and happy

If you’re not ready to take the splash with a fish pedicure, there are less extreme ways to keep your feet happy (including fish-free pedis). Here are six basic foot care tips you can practice every day to keep your feet healthy.*

Give feet a daily inspection. Don’t wait until your feet hurt, but take a few minutes each day to look for cuts, blisters, bruises, sores, infected toenails or swelling.

Wash and dry thoroughly. Wash your feet regularly using warm water. Be sure to dry well between your toes.

Keep skin soft and smooth. Use unscented cream on the tops and bottoms of your feet if the skin is dry and cracked. Wipe off excess cream and don’t apply between your toes. If you suffer from sweaty feet, sprinkle on some talcum powder.

Maintain your toenails. Cut or file your nails regularly with appropriate nail care tools. Trim them straight across and never shorter than the end of your toe.

Wear comfortable shoes and socks. Not surprisingly, many foot problems are caused by improper footwear: shoes that don’t fit, give proper support or have enough grip on the ground. For greater comfort, avoid socks with ridges or elastic at top as they can restrict circulation.

Tip: When buying new shoes, wait until later in the day when feet are more likely to be
swollen and at their largest.

Stay active. Physical activity helps to increase circulation, prevent cramps and maintain muscle strength. Walking is a great way to stay active, but for other foot-related exercises, click here.

*Public Health Agency of Canada

Sources: The Associated Press; The Public Health Agency of Canada

Photo © Suslov

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