Personal Injury Articles
Fish spa infections
Fish spas have become increasingly popular over the last year or so. As with almost any type of beauty treatment there are risks which can be reduced, if not avoided completely.
Fish (usually Garra rufa) eat away the dead skin from people’s feet. These treatments carry risks of contracting blood borne viruses such as HIV or hepatitis as well as bacterial or fungal infections because of the numbers of people putting their feet in the water.
Companies offering fish pedicures have a duty to ensure that the risk of infection are kept to a minimum. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has published guidance on the management of the public health risks posed by fish pedicures. The guidelines can be found at http://www.hpa.org.uk/NewsCentre/NationalPressReleases/2011PressReleases/111018Fishpedicures/
The HPA considers the risk of infection to be low provided that spas follow simple hygiene procedures.
The biggest problem is maintaining the quality and cleanliness of the water. It isn’t practical to use chemicals as the amount needed would be toxic to the fish.
The use of high intensity UV (Ultra Violet) light is another possibility but this could have a detrimental affect on the client’s skin and on the fish. In certain circumstances bacteria may even thrive on UV light.
The simplest and most effective method of ensuring cleanliness is to change and filter the water regularly, inspect the feet of clients before they use the spa and regularly inspect the fish to ensure they are not suffering from any obvious disease or parasitic condition.
Some people are more susceptible to infection than others. The HPA advise that people suffering from diabetes, psoriasis, immune deficiency, eczema, dermatitis on the legs or feet and those who have already contracted blood borne viruses such as HIV or Hepatitis, should not be treated. Similarly, anyone with a fungal infection such as Athlete’s foot should not be allowed to use the spa. It is also recommended anyone who has had their legs waxed or shaved within 24 hours should not have the treatment.
It stands to reason that a spa offering this treatment should ask each client before the treatment their medical history and check their feet prior to the treatment to check for open sores, wounds or infections. It would also be sensible to thoroughly clean client’s feet prior to the treatments and ensure that all walkways are appropriately sanitised to prevent cross infection.
If a spa has failed to follow the guidance set down by the HPA and a client develops a bacterial, fungal or other infection it is likely they will have a claim for compensation. Such infections can be deeply unpleasant causing itching, swelling, redness and weeping sores which can go on for months.
If you (or anyone you know) have suffered such an infection following a spa treatment please contact us for a free, no obligation discussion about a possible claim. We can usually help you on a “no win, no fee” basis.