Doctor Claims You Should Avoid Fish Spas If You Have Wounds As You Could Lose Your Toes

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Foot fish spas were all the rage at one point. Some of these places still exist today, but could they be bringing more harm than good?

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Centers For Disease Control And Prevention

Singaporean general practitioner and TikTok content creator Dr Sam claimed that foot fish spas can be dangerous for people with wounds on their feet.

Dr Sam, who often explains medical issues on his platform, relayed a past incident when a 29-year-old Australian woman named Victoria Curthoys lost her toes due to a dangerous infection at a fish spa.

While on holiday, Curthoys visited a fish spa in Thailand, where small freshwater fish nibble at your dead skin as a means to clean it.  

However, when she went home, she began getting intermittent fevers and chills for a year. Doctors eventually discovered that the source was in her big toe and had to amputate it.

Turns out, Curthoys had a previous injury in her big toe and when she went for the foot spa, a new infection entered through her old wound

Unlike traditional foot spas where they can sanitise equipment in between customers, Dr Sam explained that you can't sanitise fish or the water at fish spas in between clients.

The doctor went on to say that Curthoys developed a type of infection called shewanella, but you can also get fungal infections, streptococcal, and mycobacterium at a fish spa.

Over the course of five years after the incident, Curthoys lost one toe after another, and eventually, she had no more toes on her right foot.

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Image from Victoria Curthoys / MDWfeatures
Image via Victoria Curthoys / MDWfeatures

Dr Sam ended his video by advising the public to reconsider when going for a fish spa, and to make sure you have no wounds on your feet or a compromised immune system

"This is the reason why fish spas are banned in some countries... you are better off using a pumice stone," he added.

According to Medical News Today, foot fish spas are considered illegal in some parts of the US, Canada, and Europe due to health and ethical concerns.

The fish, known as garra rufa fish or doctor fish, often feed on wild plankton. However, when starved, they can feed on dead skin off a person's feet too, which some consider as animal cruelty.

The Centers Control for Disease and Prevention also noted that it is difficult to maintain the hygienic conditions at fish spas, as there is no effective way to disinfect the tubs or fish in between sessions.

You can watch Dr Sam's full video below:


The Foot Spa you have always seen and wondered if it is completely safe. Fair to say - While the general population may be unaffected / experience no side effects - best to reconsider these types of spas if there are any open wounds or a compromised immune system. #publichealth #newfearunlocked #atyourownrisk #learnontiktok #learningisfun #medtok #medicaltiktok #skingapore #familymedicine #gpsamuel #doctorsamuel #drsamuelgp #doctorsoftiktok #tiktokdoctor #singaporedoctor #tiktokusa #tiktoksg #tiktokaustralia #tiktokthailand #fishspa #garrarufa #fish #ofishial #fishspas #foot #feet #amputation #amputee #footspa What is a fish spa ? Is a fish spa safe ? #footreflexology #reflexology #notmedicaladvice #notsponsored #notendorsing #underthesea

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The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care.

Previously, Dr Sam also debunked the myth that cold water slows down digestion:

If you want to exfoliate your skin, here are some effective and less controversial methods:

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