Nibbly fish cured my scaly skin


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A student from Scotland claims that her skin condition has been cured by sitting in a bath of fish which nibbled at her skin.

Samantha Locke from Jordanhill in Glasgow, who suffers from the skin condition psoriasis, told The Daily Mail that after sitting in a bath full of fishes, the scales, which are symptomatic of the condition, had disappeared from her skin.

Locke, who came across the treatment while on a spa holiday in Turkey, says the Mail, sat in a sunken bath full of cyprinid fishes called Garra rufa for over an hour. When she got out of the bath, the reddish patches and silvery scales left by the inflammatory condition were getting better. "It felt strange knowing they were eating my skin..."She told The Daily Mail: "It felt strange knowing they were eating my skin but I couldn't feel them touching me.

"It was weird the way the fish were only nibbling at the bits affected by psoriasis."

The Mail says that Locke went back every day during her stay in Turkey and that the marks had gone by the end of her holiday. She intends to go back again next year.

Psoriasis fish cureThis isn't the first time Practical Fishkeeping has reported the use of Garra rufa in controlling Psoriasis. Back in November 2003, we reported that German health authorities were apparently covering the cost of the treatment for their patients.

The fish, which looks very much like a Sucking loach, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, comes from Jordan, Syria and Turkey and grows to around 14cm.

It lives in hot pools where it is said to feed on the skin scales of bathers, reducing illnesses such as neurodermitis.

Although there is, as yet, no proven cure for psoriasis, some believe that bathing in a hot tub of Garras can help control the condition.

Turkey's Kangal Fishy Hot Spring, for example, offers psoriasis fish treatments which involve bathing in a special spa pool along with thousands of the fish.

Clearly, psoriasis sufferers in the UK seem to be hearing about the treatment more and more. Practical Fishkeeping has recently received a letter from one reader via our Ask the Experts service who wished to purchase some Garra rufa to attempt the treatment in his own home...

Fact FileScientific name: Garra rufa (Heckel, 1843)

Family: Cyprinidae (Carps)

Size: Up to 14cm/5", according to museum records, but usually around 10cm/4".

Origin: A non-migratory freshwater fish found in rivers through much of Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Turkey and Syria. There are also unconfirmed reports of the species in Oman and Saudi Arabia, but these aren't considered compatible with the distributional range of the species.

Habitat: According to Krupp and Schneider, most Garra rufa are found in small muddy streams, rivers and lakes. However, the fish is also found in hot pools and locals bathe there in an attempt to get the fish to remove scales from their skin caused by a range of dermatological conditions.

Water: Temperatures in the natural habitat are said to range from 15-28C. In hot pools, the fish is said to live at a temperature around the 37C mark.

Availability: As far as we are aware, this species of Garra is not available through the aquarium trade in the UK or elsewhere. A number of other Garra species, predominantly those from south Asia, are popular fish with specialist fishkeepers. The genus was covered in the July 2005 issue of Practical Fishkeeping.