Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Fish Tickle

I’ve been hearing a lot about fish pedicures lately. They’re the latest craze in spa treatments where little flesh eating fish nibble at your toes to give you smooth tootsies. Whilst walking about in The Only Way Is Essex land (Loughton) this week I saw that a shop dedicated to the swimming nibblers had opened called Sole Sensation []. My friend Nina and I decided that it would be worth a go, if only for the novelty factor and paid £10 for 10 minutes of the ‘treatment’.

After washing your feet you flip flop over to a sort of bench where you sit down and then lower your feet into your own private tank of Garra Rufa Fish. Now, the lowering down part took me a minute or two as each time your feet get anywhere near the surface of the water the little swimmers all come to the surface, mouths wide open, gagging for a taste of your flesh!

Fear not the ‘doctor fish’ are toothless and only nibble at the dead skin on your feet, not the healthy stuff, so you won’t be eaten alive. However it still took a while for me to pick up the courage to put my feet actually under the surface.

As soon as my feet were in I can only describe the sensation as tickle torture. I am a very ticklish person and so could barely contain the urge to squeal and screech as the fish went to town on my feet which must have been some kind of banquet of dead skin the way they were going for it.

Ten minutes felt like a very long time and once it was over we were given a towel and some lotion while we inspected our feet. I have to admit that I did not notice a lot of difference on first inspection but once I got home I realised that my skin was a lot smoother and not as hard in places. Perhaps a longer treatment would yield more noticeable results.

These were our faces during the last few minutes... says it all really.

I then suddenly started to worry how ethical the treatment was. Why were the little swimmers so hungry for feet? Do they get fed in between foot snacks or is that their only food source?

Having looked around on the internet I can’t find much on the subject. Some people suggest that the fish would have to be really hungry i.e. not fed to eat away at your feet the way that they do. But that their tanks and water filtration was pretty good. I have emailed the shop about it and will post again if they get back to me.

Most of the articles I found were about the treatment being banned in several states in America due to fear of a spread of infection. I thought that this was a little over-kill as everyone had to wash their feet and answer a questionnaire about their health and if they have any open wounds or infections before using the tanks, so I didn’t feel that infection would be an issue.

The craze is gathering pace with full body versions being made available where you lie in a floatation tank filled with the fish. Personally, I don’t think I’d last a second with an all over fish tickle session!


  1. But if the fish are tickling you, what's to stop you involuntarily jamming your foot down and killing some?

  2. Wendy Peterson18 May 2011 at 21:49

    I am uber-ticklish on my feet (pretty much my first words to boyfriends has always been, "touch my feet and I won't be held responsible for the damage") so the thought of this makes me need to reach for a nice relaxing stocking stitch project. You are very brave.

  3. Clare, Tonbridge21 May 2011 at 10:07

    I became a spectator show at Camden Market having this done. Every time they went in between my toes I squealed and howled with laughter. The lady running it said the fish get much more disinterested towards the end of the day as they're not hungry any more.