South West Londoners get cold feet over foot spas


Merton’s fish spa users are reluctant to go back after national newspapers reported the possibility of the treatment spreading HIV and Hepatitis C.


By Daniel Jolly, Katriona Ormiston, Rosie Peaty and Jack Zorab

Merton’s fish spa users are reluctant to return one month on from The Sun’s damning front page exposing its potential dangers.

National newspapers including The Daily Mail and The Sun reported the possibly of the treatment spreading HIV and Hepatitis C, amongst other viruses.

The papers quoted the Health Protection Agency’s report, which mentioned there was a very low risk of catching an infection as a result of a fish spa pedicure.

“After all the articles I have been reading lately I don’t think I will ever go to one again, and hearing its not just little infections being spread but possibly HIV or Hepatitis C,” said South Wimbledon resident Georgina Bright, 19.

“It is shocking and I am surprised it was ever legal in the first place. After reading and hearing all this I have noticed most places have shut down, thank God.

“I will definitely think twice before putting my feet in a fish-tank again.”

The popular treatment, which originated in Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey and Syria, involves users placing their feet into a fish-filled tank of water.

The Garra Rufa, otherwise known as Dr Fish, nibble the thickened skin from their feet, usually for between 15-30minutes.

Their life expectancy is three to six years with wild Garra Rufa typically living longer than farmed fish.

“The fish pedicure treatments have decreased a bit overall in the last month. How much of that is down to the Sun and its ridiculous headlines is difficult to say,” said one Merton spa manager.

“The report could not rule out the danger of these infections but the story did not warrant the front page of a national newspaper, it didn’t even warrant page 17.

“Winter tends to be quieter than the summer anyway because in the summer people wear open shoes more often so we do a lot more fish spas.”

Suppliers have noticed a steep decline in sales following the negative media coverage. 

“In what the papers have said they haven’t really taken into consideration what the actual article released by the Health Protection Agency said. They have just assumed the worst,” said Yasmin Ghasor, at Dr. Garra, a leading fish supplier.

“We can only really speak to our clients and reassure them on what has been published by the HPA.”

Related Articles