Although the risk of catching an infection as a result of a fish spa pedicure is likely to be very low, it cannot be completely excluded. However, there are certain things you can do to further reduce your risk of catching or spreading an infection when having one of these treatments.
Choosing a salon
Use your personal judgment: as with all beauty salons, if it looks unsanitary, do not go there for your treatment. If you are very concerned about the cleanliness of a salon you visit, you can report this to your local Environmental Health department, who will be able to perform an inspection of the premises.
When having a treatment, a trained member of staff should perform an inspection of your feet both beforehand, to check for any broken skin / infections, and afterwards, to check for signs of bleeding. They should also ask you to wash your feet with soap and water before putting them in the tank, to make sure that any products you have used that could be harmful to the fish are washed away, and to reduce the risk of spreading any infection.
Ask your therapist what other procedures the salon has in place to minimise the risk of infection. The Health Protection Agency, England has produced a set of guidelines for salons which, if followed, will ensure any potential risk of infection is kept to an absolute minimum.
Before having the treatment
The HPA has identified a number of health conditions or prior treatments which may mean that you should not have a fish pedicure. These are:
- Leg waxing or shaving in last 24 hours
- Any open cuts/wounds/abrasions/broken skin on the feet or lower legs
- Infection on the feet (including athlete’s foot, verruca)
- Psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis affecting the feet or lower legs
- Diabetes (increased risk of infection)
- Infection with a blood borne virus such as Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C or HIV
- Any immune deficiency due to illness or medication
- Bleeding disorders or on anticoagulant medication (e.g. heparin or warfarin