One of the more interesting alternative therapies that has grown in popularity for those suffering from a variety of skin disorders is the use of the tiny Garra Rufa fish to nibble away the dead skin and revitalize the new skin. This type of treatment originated in hot springs found in certain parts of Turkey.
The treatments consist of the Garra Rufa fish nibbling at the dead skin for about fifteen to thirty minutes. The bites are not painful. They have been described as more of a micro-massage. In actuality, the fish is licking the skin, getting nourishment for itself from the dead parts. An enzyme found in the fish’s mouth is said to be helpful in treating skin disorders such as psoriasis. There are also those who claim that these treatments can improve circulation and remove bacteria from the skin.
The relaxing feel of the massage aspect and the comfort of the hot water both combine to create a sense of well-being that probably offers a psychological improvement as well. For those using the pools created from the hot springs in Turkey, there seems to be little to worry about. Even those who do not feel the treatments have any real value don’t seem to feel there is a great deal of risk either. At least not in these natural environments.
Garra Rufa’s Popularity Moves Into Salons
Because of their reputed ability to revitalize the skin, the Garra Rufa treatments have gained in popularity to the point that many salons and spas began offering the treatments even to those with healthy skin. Since they did not have a hot springs to put the fish in, the treatments were done in pools in the facility. This is where the problem with infection began to be created. So long as high standards of hygiene are maintained, the risk of infection is low. But when these pools are not always cleansed as thoroughly as they should be, the potential for infection grows.
In spite of some voices that have wanted to wave a number of red flags, that risk is still fairly small, at least for those who are in good health. There is some concern, however, for those who suffer from conditions such as diabetes or who have compromised immune systems. A recent report recommended that even the small risk of infection that these salons hold may be more or a risk than those with such conditions should expose themselves to.
What Are The Concerns With Diabetes?
The fear is that by exposing themselves to the potential for even small infections through these treatments, those with diabetes may find themselves risking their overall health by forcing their immune systems to try and fight off the infection. The benefits that could be received from the fish therapy treatments could potentially be outweighed by the aftereffects of an infection contracted from the pools.
Even if the salon maintains a good regimen when it comes to its cleaning policies, the risk for infection is not completely removed. The Garra Rufa treatments have been banned in the United States because there is not a way to guarantee that infection won’t be a possibility. Regulations on the cosmetology industry require that tools either be sanitized or discarded after each use. There is no way to effectively sanitize the fish and they are too expensive to discard after each use. Doing such would make the whole treatment industry unprofitable. Because there is no way to follow the regulation, the treatments are banned in the US.
The concerns about the potential risks to those suffering from diabetes are meant to be a guideline for protecting oneself from the consequences. Although there are benefits to the Garra Rufa treatments, these benefits may not be enough to nullify the very real concerns that certain types of germs can be spread through the use of the pools in these salons. It would be better for those diabetics seeking an alternative way to deal with their skin conditions to find other types of treatments that do not carry the risk that using the Garra Rufa pools might bring them or to reverse their diabetes first.