Fish therapy
Fish therapy


Fish therapy uses a certain type of fish, called doctor fish, to eat dead skin. The fish are placed in a warm bath. A person then places either their whole body or only certain parts of the body, such as the hands and feet, into the bath.

Some people use fish therapy for scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis), eczema (atopic dermatitis), and to soften the skin, but there is no good scientific evidence supporting any use. Fish therapy may also be unsafe.
Fish therapy is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when administered in a spa or salon setting. Multiple people have developed skin infections after receiving fish therapy in this setting. Due to infection concerns, at least 10 states in the US have banned fish therapy.

There isn't enough reliable information to know if fish therapy is safe when administered by a healthcare professional. So far, there haven't been any reports of infection when fish therapy is administered in a medical setting. This may be due to better cleaning practices.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if fish therapy is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid using.

Immune disorders: Fish therapy has caused serious skin infections. People with poor immune function or immune disorders may be at an increased risk for skin infection after fish therapy. Speak with a healthcare provider before receiving fish therapy.


NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions
  • Scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis). Early research shows that placing the whole body in a fish bath for 2 hours a day, every day for 3 weeks, might improve symptoms of psoriasis in some patients.
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis).
  • Overall skin health.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of fish therapy for these uses.

Dosing & administration

Fish are placed in a warm water bath. A person then places their whole body, or a part of the body, in the bath. For people with skin conditions like scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis) or eczema (atopic dermatitis), fish therapy typically lasts for about 2 hours. For people receiving fish therapy at a spa or salon, the treatment usually lasts for 15-30 minutes. But beware that the fish and the water used in these baths may be contaminated with bacteria.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

It is not known if this therapy interacts with any medicines.

Before using this therapy, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.


A certain type of fish, called Garra rufa, or doctor fish, is used to remove dead skin. It is thought that removing dead skin may improve the appearance and feel of the skin. But there is no good scientific evidence to support these theories. has licensed monographs from TRC Healthcare.
This monograph was last reviewed on 29/12/2022 18:34:28 and last updated on 12/08/2020 00:07:46. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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