What Is Fish Therapy?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 22 February 2020
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Fish therapy is one of the more unusual dry skin treatments. During this type of therapy, individuals submerge themselves or specific body parts in tanks filled with fish that nibble and slough off dry dead skin. Although anyone can partake in this type of therapy, psoriasis and eczema sufferers are most likely to benefit from it. The fish used for this treatment are native to parts of the Middle East, and this therapy is very popular in many parts of Asia. Some areas in the United States (US), however, have banned this practice for being unsanitary.

Oils, creams, and lotions are some of the most popular and widely recognized treatments for dry skin. Fish therapy to treat dry skin, however, is not as well known. This type of spa treatment involves the use of fish to remove flakes of dead skin. Individuals can immerse just parts of their bodies, such as the hands or feet, or their whole bodies into tanks or pools that hold hundreds or thousands of special fish.

While the skin is soaking in the water, the skin softens, which makes it easier for the fish to nibble away at the dead skin cells. Those with extremely dry and flaky skin, such as psoriasis and eczema sufferers, will often benefit from this type of treatment. Individuals who have had this treatment claim that it is not as painful as it sounds. In fact, most people claim that it just tickles.


Fish therapy is also sometimes referred to as Garra rufa therapy, since most of the fish used during these treatments are Garra rufas. Also known as doctor fish, Garra rufas are a type of very small carp native to parts of the Middle East, particularly Turkey. They can be found in abundance in pools of water created by natural hot springs. The temperature of this water makes it hard for algae and other food sources to survive, so these fish resort to eating the skin of the bathers that visit the springs. Another species of doctor fish, Cyprinion macrostomus, is also sometimes used for fish therapy.

This treatment is very popular in salons and spas in some parts of the world, including Turkish spas and Chinese spas. In some regions, however, government regulations have banned fish therapy. As of 2011, for instance, fish therapy was banned in almost half of the states in the US. Government officials are concerned this treatment is unsanitary.

Even though the chances of catching a disease from fish are small, precautions should still taken to prevent this from happening. Reputable spas and salons that offer this treatment change and filter the water in their fish therapy tanks regularly. Most of these businesses use fresh water for each person who gets this treatment, so it is usually no more unsanitary than getting a manicure.


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Post 2

@spotiche5- I had fish therapy when I traveled to China several years ago. I had extremely dry skin on my feet that nothing seemed to help. I found that this therapy was not only relaxing, but made my feet softer than they had ever been. Though fish therapy isn't for everyone and it is certainly different, I would recommend trying it if you ever have the chance.

Post 1

Though this type of skin therapy sounds strange, I have heard that it works wonders on certain dry skin issues. Has anyone ever experienced fish therapy, and does it really work?

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