Beauty News: Bait for Controversy - Fish Pedicures

Fish pedicures. Banned in several of the United States and Canadian provinces, the practice is believed by many cosmetology regulators to be unsanitary. Small fish called Garra rufa, also known as "doctor fish," nibble away at the dead, callused skin of clients, leaving behind smooth, soft results. The oft-debated issue with regard to fish pedicures is whether sanitary conditions can be ensured. After all, one can't exactly disinfect a fish. And as for the option of discarding each fish after use, questions of cruelty and/or expenses come into play.

Before being outlawed in most U.S. states, fish pedicures were viewed as a possible source of revenue for struggling nail salons. They were uncommon enough to be exotic, and the premise was logical enough for the pedicure gain a reputation as an effective service. The results spoke for themselves. But as fish pedicures gained visibility, they gained backlash.

Last year, ABC News reported the fish “may carry bacteria responsible for a variety of dangerous skin and soft tissue infections, British scientists reported.” The CDC says on its website that it is "not aware of any published reports on illnesses resulting from fish pedicures.  Nail salon foot baths, however, have caused outbreaks of nontuberculous mycobacterial infections that left infected pedicure customers with boils and scars.” And in the UK, the Health Protection Agency warned in October 2011 that fish foot spas could spread blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis and HIV.

Recently, Cindy Vong—who owns a nail salon in Gilbert, Arizona—has gained media attention for her legal battle involving fish pedicures. Six months after Vong opened a fish spa in her salon in 2008, the Arizona Board of Cosmetology forced her to stop. Vong took the issue to court again this January, after her case was dismissed in 2010, and wants a declaration that her constitutional rights were violated.


“Basically, it’s a 14th amendment issue,” said Darcy Olsen, president of the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute public policy organization. “In America you have the right to pursue an honest living as long as you’re not endangering the public. She has the right to operate this business and the government does not have any right to shut her down.”


What do you think: Are fish pedicures safe? Should they be legal? And if so, is there an effective way to regulate them?


[[IMAGES: Eric Beracassat/Getty and Ed Ou/Getty]]

Sources: and

Related:  Skincare Tips: Winter Sports Skincare  |  Most Women Choose Gorgeous Skin Over Designer Wardrobe  |  Skincare Tips: Are Your Eyes Making You Look Old?  |  29 Beauty Brands Selected for Special California Export Initiative  |  Oxidation: How Fast is Your Skin Aging?

More in Home