Sunday, May 15, 2011

Have you heard of Garra Rufa and fish pedicure !!

Looks and appearance enhances one’s values and some would do everything to look good and fit. 

Remember the advt – ‘Axe effect’  - the male grooming product of Unilever, marketed towards young males.  This primarily is a body scent promo which shows females lurching to a boy who is using this product.  It was not in good taste and generated much adverse publicity. 

As you would know, cosmetics are the  substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body. In olden days make-up would perhaps mean only putting some facial enhancement and perhaps some body spray.  Now  cosmetics include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, towelettes, permanent waves, colored contact lenses, hair colors, hair sprays and gels, deodorants, hand sanitizer, baby products, bath oils, bubble baths, bath salts, butters and many other types of products.

Now people, especially women indulge in manicure, pedicure and more.  Manicure is a cosmetic beauty treatment for the fingernails and hands performed at home or in a nail salon.  It is replete with  filing, shaping of the free edge, treatments, massage of the hand.  The word "manicure" derives from Latin: manus for "hand," cura for "care.

In Western Countries,  there are licensed professionals governed by some regulations.  This involves skin and the manipulation, the process of trimming could give room to some infection.  In advanced countries, there are certified Nail courses for becoming a successful nail technician.   Similar service to improve the appearance of feet and nails is called pedicure.  It is a superficial treatment to feet and toe nails coming from latin - pedis, which means "of the foot," and cura, which means "care."   This is believed to  prevent nail diseases and nail disorders.   The dead skin cells at the bottom of feet are also rubbed off using a rough stone called a pumice stone.

Life is also a cycle and sometimes from advanced technology is born natural treatment again.  There is something known as “fish pedicure”. .  Ichthys is the Greek name for fish.  Ichthyology is the branch of zoology dealing with fishes. Ichthyotherapy is the use of fresh water or marine organisms especially fish as agents of skin cleansing.

There are some types of fishes and you would have observed that in some ponds, when you venture down for bathing, you can feel fishes nibbling you.   This type of fish is popularly called the Doctor fish.  There are two varieties -  Garra rufa and Cyprinion macrostomus.  Other nicknames include nibble fish, kangal fish, and doctorfishen;
Garra rufas  are associated with Turkish spas.  The spas are not meant as a curative treatment option, only as a temporary alleviation of symptoms, and patients usually revisit the spas every few months.

There are claims that these fishes would cure psoriasis and would work through hard skin on heels, stimulate acupuncture points, improve blood circulation and relax the body reducing fatigue. 

Swindon is a large town near Bristol, UK and its Mayor  recently opened a  walk-in natural pedicure store in the Brunel Shopping Centre.  Dr Spafish is the second of its kind to open in Swindon in recent months, offering a unique service whereby Garra Rufa fish work through the build up of hard skin on the heels and soles of the feet getting rid of any dry skin, but leaving the healthy flesh untouched. The toothless spa-fish are seen as an alternative to pumice stones and foot scrubs, leaving the feet feeling soft and smooth.

It is reported that this practice is banned in some American States and Canadian provinces as it is believed to be unsanitary going by the cosmetology regulations. The general mandate is that tools need to be discarded or sanitized after each use. But epidermis-eating fish are too expensive to throw away. 

There are concerns that these garra rufa fish which nibble at open wounds could spread infection from person to person.  There are further reports that a civil law suit involving Spa owner is on at the Arizona Court of appeals.  The lower court had earlier dismissed the suit.  It is stated that the Board of Cosmetology had threatened to pull the license of the Pedicure service if this fish treatment was continued as the fishes were considered unsafe when not sterilized.  The owner who would suffer financial loss is fighting for the right to run the business and is fighting on the grounds of jurisdiction also. 

It was a legal fight on whether nibbling is constitutional.  

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

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