Taiwan officials find popular fish pedicure fishy

March 29th, 2009 - 8:17 am ICT by IANS  

Taipei, March 29 (DPA) Fish pedicures are becoming hot in Taiwan, but authorities are pouring cold water on the practice by questioning the effect of the treatment, a newspaper said Sunday.
Some spa operators in Taiwan, like those in Japan, South Korea and other countries, have imported a special kind of toothless fish to nibble the feet of bathers in their pools, claiming the fish remove dead skin, give a pedicure and treat psoriasis and other ailments.

In Ilan County, which is home to many hot springs, including some pools used by spas for fish pedicure, a health official is openly questioning fish pedicure, which originated from Turkey and became popular in Asia a few years ago, the Taipei Times reported.

Liu Yi-lien, director of the county’s health bureau, was quoted as saying “there is no scientific data to substantiate the claims of its medical benefits, and in fact there could be a hygiene problem”.

It is generally believed that if one allows those tiny imported fish to nibble at the sores and wounds on one’s feet, they can cure diseases.

But Liu warned that if people with skin disease, sores or open wounds on their feet put their feet in hot springs, it could spread an infection to other bathers.

The practice has also become popular in the US where some salon owners have installed tubs with the fish to give pedicures, but health officials in several states have banned it as unsanitary.

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