I HAD my toes nibbled in public last week.
But reader believe you me this was no attempt to rival Sarah Ferguson in the controversial foot stakes.
No, I was sampling a new beauty treatment for toes which has a somewhat controversial reputation.
Undeterred by some of the reports about fish foot spas, I went ahead, but trod carefully with my fish pedicure.
Fish spa therapy made its first appearance on the high street last year in Sheffield’s Meadowhall.
Since then the number of outlets has grown and I know of at least two in Huddersfield town centre.
To a vegetarian, the concept appealed and amused me. Putting my tootsies into a tank filled with tiny flesh-eating fish seemed a bit of a role reversal and I felt as if I was doing my bit for the animal kingdom.
Garra rufa fish, which are about the size of minnows are known as doctor or nibble fish. They suck and nibble away at dead and dry skin, leaving your feet feel refreshed and silky smooth.
The fish are naturally found in the river basins of the Northern and Central Middle east, mainly in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The pedicures are popular in Asia but have been banned in some American states for health and safety reasons.
Among the claims which are made about the therapy are that Garra rufa fish exfoliation stimulates blood flow and circulation, removes bacteria, causes relaxation and fatigue.
There are also suggestions that it is good for people with skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Concerns have however been expressed about the cleanliness of the process, whether tanks are cleaned out and the possibility of cross-infection. This has led to the Health Protection Agency investigating if there are any risks.
My feet were well washed before I visited the foot spa. But I was also asked to place them in a foot bath filled with water prior to placing them in the tank.
I also filled in a health form before the treatment stating if I had any medical conditions.
It is a pleasant experience, and I would do it again. I visited early to make sure there weren’t too many passing shoppers.I didn’t want my public fish nibbling to be too public. But overall I really enjoyed it.
I started with the tank and the smaller fish. It just felt like a bubbly sensation and the fish seemed more attracted to the spaces between the toes rather than the foot itself.
Apparently because the Garra rufa fish live in water with caves they enjoy more confined spaces such as the gaps between the toes.
After several minutes I moved into the tank with the larger fish. These you could feel more, not nibbling or biting but more of a friction sensation around the foot.
When my 30 minute session was finished I removed my feet, rinsed them and applied lovely mango scented foot cream.
They were left feeling soft and smooth and much better than your average pedicure.
I must admit to thinking that more of the dry skin would be removed after the first session.
But overall my birthday treat for my feet left me relaxed and walking on air!