Introducing the Garra Rufa Fish - Your Damaged Skin's Best Friend?
With high-speed Internet access and personality-extending cell phones already common in much of the United States, many trend spotters have their eyes peeled for the next big thing from "early-adopter" countries in East Asia. However, who says the latest overhaul of our lagging American lifestyles has to be hi-tech? Consider one of the most recent breakthroughs in skin care…the fish.
In Japan, South Korea, and China, a growing number of people are using variations on a traditional Turkish skin treatment to deal with psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, and other conditions that result in dry, itchy, and less-than-stellar-looking skin.
Hot Spring Therapy — And More
Imagine entering a pool of luxurious hot spring water. Your body feels weightless; you're floating, practically levitating. Comfort, serenity, and a sense of wellbeing envelop you.
Now, add fish. Hundreds of extremely small Garra Rufa fish, to be precise, all determined to solicitously groom you into better dermatological shape. Originally from Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East, these fish are capable of living with no complaints in temperatures of up to a whopping 109º Fahrenheit. Such hardiness makes the Garra Rufa ideal helpers in hot spring therapy. But, of course, there's more.
One Weird Diet
In addition to their resistance to warm water, the Garra Rufa — also aptly known as "doctor fish," "friendly fish," and even "nibble fish" — have a peculiar diet that makes them especially worthy allies for ladies and gents trying to look their best. And what is it these doctor fish like to chow down? The answer, though simple, may leave you momentarily nonplussed: Nothing but … your own dead skin.
Wait. Do not close this window. Do not back click. The Garra Rufa's unconventional appetites could mean softer, smoother, more radiant skin for those who dare to dangle their limbs in what are, after all, not-so-treacherous waters. Asian fish spa goers have mentioned everything from an almost pleasant "tingling" sensation to "slight discomfort," but no real pain — or lost limbs.
A Clarification — Who Eats What at a Fish Spa?
Doctor fish, voracious as they are, are not of the piranha sort. True, they eat skin, but they do so only once it's completely useless to you — specifically in the form of dead, excess cells that tend to accumulate in certain areas of the body, usually the feet. This means that however delicious the healthy — and sensitive! — portion of your epidermis might be to more ferocious marine creatures, these finicky doctor fish remain thoroughly unimpressed by anything but scaling skin. Who knew fish could be so particular?
Such "friendly" dining is reportedly good news for those looking to treat stubborn dryness or itchiness. As groups of Garra Rufa converge wherever they find less than thriving skin, the ensuing feast essentially exfoliates your arms and legs while leaving healthy skin untouched, rejuvenated, and more beautiful than before your plunge. As new skin grows in the gently treated (or "nibbled" or "sampled") areas, many spa goers see even more impressive results over time.
While the benefits of fish spa treatment are not permanent, many are able to prolong their aesthetic enhancement with return visits every three or four months. Think of it as a new way of life. Convinced? Unfortunately, fish spas have yet to catch on in the U.S. For now, most Americans will simply have to wait to satiate their desire to get aquatically nibbled.
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