Yours Feets is Fishie Food

Little fishies nibble your toes...

Here’s a new idea for a beauty treatment – stick your feet into a basin of warm water, so a gaggle of fishies can nibble off all the dead crusty bits.

Fish pedicures are creating something of a splash in the D.C. area, where a northern Virginia spa has been offering them for the past four months. John Ho, who runs the Yvonne Hair and Nails salon with his wife, Yvonne Le, said 5,000 people have taken the plunge so far.

“This is a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet,” Ho said.

Well, God – of course I want to have nice feet. It’s right up there in my priority list with world peace and ending the conflict in Darfur, so of course the idea of letting a school of hungry fish snack on my toes sounds swell.

The fish used at the spa are Garra Rufa – a small, toothless variety of carp, sometimes known as the doctor fish or Kangal fish. They’re used to treat various skin conditions, psorasis in particular, and have long been a spa treatment in Turkey.

In 2006, the fish started appearing at luxury spas in parts of Asia, and there are now doctor fish spa treatments available in South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and China. It’s understandable that the fish would be more readily accepted in areas where natural cures, including animal based ones, have always remained popular. DC spa owner John Ho was less sure that DC area pedicure customers would be as open to the idea.

(Ho) didn’t know if customers would like the idea.

“I know people were a little intimidated at first,” Ho said. “But I just said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’ ”

Dennis Arnold, a podiatrist who four years ago established the International Pedicure Association, said he had never heard of the treatment and doubts it will become widespread.

“I think most people would be afraid of it,” he said.

Customer Patsy Fisher, 42, of Crofton, Maryland, admitted she was nervous as she prepared for her first fish pedicure. But her apprehension dissolved into laughter after she put her feet in the tank and the fish swarmed to her toes.

I’m due for a trip to DC – ironically enough, my first stop when there is usually down to the seafood market, so this is sort of a ‘turn about is fair play’ type situation. Fish feed me, then I feed the fish. Sounds fair. But doesn’t it hurt?

Tracy Roberts, 33, of Rockville, Maryland, heard about it on a local radio show. She said it was “the best pedicure I ever had” and has spread the word to friends and co-workers.

“I’d been an athlete all my life, so I’ve always had calluses on my feet. This was the first time somebody got rid of my calluses completely,” she said.

First time customer KaNin Reese, 32, of Washington, described the tingling sensation created by the toothless fish: “It kind of feels like your foot’s asleep,” she said.

Read the rest of the story here on CNN, or feel free to check out the video of some hungry Doctor fish in action. Sushi anyone?