Barrowford fish pedicure business hits out at health scares

Michelle Dorsett and Sheila Cant owners of Michelle's Sweet Feet in Barrowford who are not happy about the bad press regarding the Garra Rufa pedicure.'Photo Ben Parsons
Michelle Dorsett and Sheila Cant owners of Michelle's Sweet Feet in Barrowford who are not happy about the bad press regarding the Garra Rufa pedicure.'Photo Ben Parsons
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A FISH pedicure business owner has spoken out against damming claims surrounding fish foot spas, saying it has severely damaged her business.

Michelle Dorsett of Michelle’s Sweet Feet, Barrowford, has hit back at recent health scares, amid claims diseases could be contracted through the process, saying she implements extreme measures to eradicate risks.

The fish pedicure involves submerging the feet into a tank of garra rufa fish, which gently gnaw off dead skin for 15 minutes.

The popular treatment has seen a rapid expansion of salons up and down the UK, including the Gisburn Road premises, after the treatment’s long establishment in the Middle and Far East.

Mrs Dorsett says she takes meticulous measures in ensuring she is following the correct procedures, and has sought advice from the Health Protection Agency.

“I want to reassure people it is safe. We have built up a good reputation and all my regular customers are still coming as they know how clean we are,” she said.

“I examine everybody’s feet before they go in, and wash them. If anybody has anything on them, even the slightest scratch, I won’t let them in. In the past, I’ve refused people, as my standards of hygiene are the utmost.”

The HPA has offered guidance to clients and business owners and has said there is “little evidence in scientific literature of the potential public health risk to users”.

Last month, there was a public outcry after suggestions that if a user was infected with a blood-borne virus and then bleeds in the water after being “gnawed”, the disease could be passed on.

Following the HPA’s investigations a statement read, “the risk of infection as a result of a fish pedicure is likely to be very low, but cannot be completely excluded.”

At the time of the article, Mrs Dorsett was organising a charity event with all proceeds going to Pendleside Hospice.

“It had a major effect on me and it has been the quietest couple of weeks I’ve had since opening. I didn’t sell any tickets at all.

“Once upon a time, the event would have sold out.”

Mrs Dorsett says the spa has a filter system which kills bacteria, the water is changed twice a day, and clients must fill in a health questionnaire before treatments.

The HPA has said certain groups of clients, who have underlying medical conditions, like diabetes, are more likely to be at risk of infection, and should not undergo the treatment.

Michelle’s Sweet Feet is now diversifying and offering Hollywood lashes, collagen light therapy and Botox parties.

To read the HPA’s guidelines visit www.hpa.org.uk.