A popular spa treatment called "fish pedicures" is coming under scrutiny after reports from researchers revealed that the treatment can actually cause infections.
During a fish pedicure which is officially known as "ichthyotherapy," a person's feet are submerged into a tub of water containing small species of fish found in Eurasian river basins known as Garra Rufa. The fish then nibble away at the dead skin cells and callouses.
The practice- which has been banned in some U.S. states- is currently very popular in England, where luxury spa treatments are charging a high price for this "exotic" treatment.
To voice their concern, researchers in England published their findings in the upcoming June issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The most important thing to stress at this point is that the U.K. Health Protection Authority considers the human health risks to be very low, and we would not want your readers to be unduly alarmed by our findings," David W. Verner-Jeffreys, lead author of the report, told ABC News.
But there are some people who may have a higher risk at developing an infection should they have this type of pedicure. Scientists explained that people who were already diagnosed with diabetes, liver disease or an immune disorders had a greater chance had contracting an infection.
The reason that they are issuing this stern warning is that even though the fish are tiny and may tickle a person's feet they do have the potential to carry and spread antibiotic resistant infections, according to the scientists from the Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science in Weymouth, England.
"To date, there are only a limited number of reports of patients who might have been infected by this exposure route," Verner-Jeffreys said in a statement.
"However, our study raises some concerns over the extent that these fish, or their transport water, might harbor potential zoonotic disease pathogens of clinical relevance," he added.