No announcement yet.

Doctor Fish Skin Treatment

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Doctor Fish Skin Treatment

    Many people with psoriasis are desperately seeking a cure or a more effective treatment, and you may think you've tried everything to alleviate your psoriasis. But there's a good chance there's something you haven't tried. That is, unless you've spent time in the Kangal hot springs of Turkey having flesh-eating fish nibble at your skin.
    Doctor Fish: An Alternative Psoriasis Treatment

    Click image for larger version

Name:	doctor-fish-1.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	19.1 KB
ID:	34601

    Traditional psoriasis treatments include topical and systemic medications, but more and more people are looking for alternative treatments. If you've been researching alternative psoriasis therapies, you may have heard about "doctor fish."
    Doctor fish, which are technically known as Garra rufa, are members of the carp and minnow family. Among other places, the small fish live in hot springs pools in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey, which are known as the Kangal hot springs.

    Outside of the Kangal hot springs, doctor fish usually hang around the bottom of a body of water, where they attach by their mouths to rocks so they can feed on plankton. But since plankton are scarce in the Kangal hot springs, doctor fish survive there by feeding on the skin scales of human bathers.

    What the Research Says About Doctor Fish and Psoriasis

    Doctor fish got their name because bathers with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis claim that when the fish feed on their skin, their condition gets better. It's thought that since the fish feed on skin scales, they can help reduce the scales of psoriasis lesions. And doctor fish tend to prefer psoriasis lesions to healthy skin, presumably because psoriasis plaques give them more scales to feed on.

    In a study of 67 people who had severe chronic plaque psoriasis, researchers looked at whether exposure to doctor fish combined with ultraviolet A (UVA) treatment could improve psoriasis symptoms. For three weeks, the participants took daily two-hour baths in a warm tub filled with 250 to 400 doctor fish. After their baths, the participants spent 3 to 5 minutes in a stand-up tanning bed, where they were exposed to UVA light.

    After the three weeks, 72 percent of the participants showed a reduction in the severity of their psoriasis symptoms, based on a physician’s evaluation. More than 87 percent of the participants were happy with the doctor-fish therapy, and the treatment caused no significant side effects.

    This was a pilot study without a control group. And since it also involved treatment with UVA light, it's not clear how effective the fish would have been alone. So more research is essential to determine whether doctor fish are a viable alternative treatment for psoriasis.

    Is Doctor-Fish Treatment for You?

    There certainly appears to be little harm in bathing with doctor fish, and most people find the experience comfortable and enjoyable. But, points out Nanette Silverberg, MD, director of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, "Fish and brackish [semi-salty] water can carry bacterial pathogens, which can infect open wounds."

    According to Dr. Silverberg, "It would generally be more medically sound to use exfoliating moisturizers such as alpha or beta hydroxy acids — salicylic acid or lactic acid, or tar-based products to gently remove hyperkeratotic (thick) skin in psoriasis."

    Doctor-fish resorts that specialize in treating psoriasis are still primarily located outside of the United States, although local facilities may be on the horizon — a "fish pedicure" salon opened briefly in northern Virginia in 2008. A three-week trip to Turkey to bathe with the doctor fish will cost you more than $3,000, not including airfare. But because it's still unclear whether doctor fish are beneficial for people with psoriasis, it may not be worth the expense just yet.

    If you're interested in alternative treatments for your psoriasis, the best thing you can do for now is to talk to you doctor about the options you're interested in. But you never know — doctor fish may one day make an appearance at a spa near you.