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Something fishy afoot: pedicure with a bite hits Belfast

By Lesley-Anne Henry

The latest beauty craze to sweep Northern Ireland will see people paying to have fish feast on their toes.

The bizarre new ‘piranha pedicure’ involves immersing feet in water and having around 150 tiny toothless carp, known as Garra Rufa fish, eat away the hard, dry skin.

It is a treatment that is already popular across America and the Far East but Belfast’s first fish foot spa is opening its tanks in Castle Court today.

The carp, nicknamed ‘doctor fish’, are said to be able to get rid of up to three layers of dead skin in just 15 minutes.

They swim around the tank and gently suck and nibble at the feet and between the toes removing dry skin and stimulating acupuncture points.

Promoters claim that weary tootsies are left feeling healthy and rejuvenated.

The therapy is also believed to promote circulation as well as feeding the fish.

Christina Wright, from Appy Feet, the company behind the Belfast’s first fish foot spa, said: “Having toured the Far East and experienced the fish foot spa in Okinawa, Japan, I decided I needed to get involved and made it my mission to bring the concept to the UK. My idea was to make the fish spa experience available, approachable and affordable to all.

“This is the first spa of its kind in Northern Ireland and we are very excited. The store’s location is ideal for consumers, making this new form of beauty treatment accessible to all the people of Belfast.

“The benefits of the treatment have been scientifically proven. The treatment is not only for psoriasis sufferers and can have an impact on anybody who suffers with dry skin on both their feet and hands.”

The Garra Rufa fish are native to Turkey, Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.

They are part of the piranha family and have long been used to heal wounds and treat skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Kate Black, from Co Antrim, tried the unique treatment while travelling through Korea.

“It’s like a feeling you've never felt before, nothing can prepare you for it,” she said.

“I'm not 100% convinced about the so called benefits of it but it is great for a laugh.”

The treatment costs £10 for a 15-minute spa while £20 buys a 35-minute session.

Background

The concept behind Appy Feet comes from a natural pedicure method originating from Turkey and the Far East. Only Garra Rufa fish, affectionately known as doctor fish, are used for treatments.

They have no teeth but gently nibble away at the dry skin. In just 15 minutes they can chew away three layers of skin and cannot transfer any diseases to humans, customers pre-rinse their feet before the treatment and have their own dedicated foot bath.

The water is sterilised five times an hour minimum, ensuring the utmost hygiene.

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