Garra rufa – they’re small, they’re Turkish and they want your skin


Fishy feet

“What does it feel like?” said Mel. “I’m dying to try it!” Giggled Karin. “Do they bite?” Asked Lauren. “Does it actually work?” said Jill.


Anchovies, anyone?



Last month four friends from London came to stay in Newcastle for the weekend. As I planned what we would do during their stay, in between drinking far too many cups of coffee and gossiping (of course), I remembered that there was a new pedicure place in town and so booked us all in for a half hour appointment at the end of the day.

I’m not usually one for painted nails and fancy make up but this place promised to be a little bit different. Instead of beauticians using files and pumice stones to smooth the rough areas of skin on our feet, our tootsies were going to be pampered by a tank full of small toothless fish.

Fish foot therapy originated in Turkey and the Middle East where it was discovered that the small, toothless Garra Rufa fish actually feed on dead skin cells. The treatment is so effective that some salons in Asia offer total body exfoliation with bathtubs filled with the fish and the therapy has been found to help people who suffer from skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

To our relief the therapy on offer in Newcastle didn’t involve bathtubs and bikinis but extended only below the knee. We rolled our jeans up over our knees, wiped our feet clean with a wet wipe and, as the timers were set on the reception desk for our half hour session, we gingerly lowered our feet into the depths of the tanks.

Above the deep warm silence of the water in the fish tanks the air in the salon filled with sudden hysterical shrieks and whoops of laughter. Mel screamed, Karin shrieked, Jill giggled and Lauren smiled and then looked all dreamy. As soon as our toes had entered the lukewarm water the fish had responded like iron filings drawn to a powerful magnet. They had homed in on our exposed skin and had started to nibble and suck frantically.

Mel, Karin, Me, lauren and Jill taking the plunge at FootLove


It felt like tiny streams of air bubbles moving all over our feet and it tickled like mad. After pulling our feet out in hysterics we took a collective deep breath and tried again, heels first this time, until our feet were fully submerged. Gradually, as we grew used to the sensations, our shrieking calmed to the occasional ‘Ooh!’ and ‘Whoop!’

Fish Therapy works and it works on two very different levels. Firstly it smoothes and softens hard skin and invigorates your feet, making them feel light and very refreshed. But it does much more than just that. The endorphin rush from laughing so much at the sensation itself and then at the reaction of the other people trying it for the first time was huge and it lasted for the rest of the day.

It is a highly recommended and very novel way to put a smile on your face, and yes, my feet felt amazing.


One Response to “Garra rufa – they’re small, they’re Turkish and they want your skin”

  1. 1 Tweets that mention Garra rufa – they’re small, they’re Turkish and they want your skin « wildmanwrites's Blog --

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