It’s summer time (kind of), and the flip-flops are coming out. So make your feet beautiful, and try something a little bit different: Ichthyotherapy.
Ichthyotherapy, whilst being an amusingly difficult word to pronounce, is also the term used to describe the treatment of skin with freshwater or marine fish.
We have all seen these specialist outlets pop up in towns and cities around the country; since the first opened in Sheffield’s Meadowhall, hundreds have opened nationwide. This health craze was even voted fifth in the top ten alternative therapies by Time Magazine in December 2009. But what is it, and does it actually work?
The bizarre treatment involves tiny Garra Rufa fish, now affectionately known as “Doctor Fish”, which are used to clean and exfoliate the skin. These toothless fish suck and nibble at dry and dead skin which can be unsightly and uncomfortable.
The treatment is said to remove bacteria and reduce foot odour, whilst also temporarily alleviating symptoms of skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and stimulating improved blood circulation.
So once you dunk your feet in, a shoal of these little creatures cloud round and dig in. The immediate tickling sensation might cause a few squeals and squirms, but once accustomed, giddiness will fade into complete calm and utter relaxation.
The end result will leave your feet feeling smooth, soft and refreshed; which in turn will leave you feeling sexy and more confident, too.
Though this kind of treatment is new to us, Turkey and the Far East discovered the healing powers of fish centuries ago. As the story goes, a Turkish shepherd with an injured foot stumbled into marshy ground and found his wound besieged by these little fish. The wound healed and he hailed the fish as being responsible for his quick recovery.
In these modern times however, there have been concerns about health and hygiene when using such treatment. But these fears have been dispelled by spa owners, who insist that visitors wash their feet before treatment, and the water is filtered and sterilised regularly – often at least five times an hour. The Health Protection Agency agrees; assuring that the overall risk of infection is likely to be very low, if the spa operates good standards of hygiene. They advise that visitors should allow cuts and infections to heel before seeking fish spa treatment, and wait 24 hours after having shaved or waxed legs. No problem there then!
So whether it’s to improve the look of unsightly feet that have been wrapped up and neglected for months, or whether if it’s just for the fun of it, indulge in a fish spa treatment. Take a friend; it’s certainly more entertaining and pleasurable than using standard high street creams. And best of all, there is a spa right here in York. Appy Feet, in Coppergate Shopping Centre, provides treatments not just for feet, but for your hands, too. For more information, visit their website here.
Give it a go!