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Fungal infection of the toenails, called onychomycosis, causes the toenails to become thick and hardened with crumbling edges. According to MayoClinic.com, the infection may first appear as a small white spot that eventually spreads, infecting the whole nail. One or more toenails can be affected. Fungal infections of the nail are difficult to treat and often recur. A new approach, laser therapy, claims to be effective in eradicating fungal infections from the toenails.
Causes of Toenail Fungus
Fungi are tiny microscopic organisms that exist in dark, warm, moist environments, such as public showers and swimming pools. Fungi called dermatophytes are responsible for causing infections in the toenails, according to MayoClinic.com. Fungi get into the toenail through a tiny opening in the skin or a spot where the nail is separated from the nail bed. Fungal infections of the toenails are more likely to occur in elderly people, possibly due to decreased circulation, and are more prevalent in men than women.
- Fungi are tiny microscopic organisms that exist in dark, warm, moist environments, such as public showers and swimming pools.
- Fungal infections of the toenails are more likely to occur in elderly people, possibly due to decreased circulation, and are more prevalent in men than women.
Types of Lasers
Does Bleach Pen Cure Toenail Fungus?
Currently, there are two models of lasers available for the treatment of toenail fungus 12. According to the Foot and Ankle Center, the Patholase laser does not have an FDA approval for the treatment of fungal infections of the toenail, and studies performed have not supported it as being effective in treating toenail fungus 12. Another model from Nomir Medical technologies is waiting for FDA approval, and studies have shown an 85 percent improvement in appearance of the toenails after six months. More studies to evaluate the appearance of the nails 12 months post-laser treatment are under way.
How Lasers Work
The laser is a concentrated beam of light energy that vaporizes tissue in the area of treatment, according to Toenail Fungal Treatments 12. Different wavelengths of energy are used in order to selectively treat different body areas. The fungus is targeted and destroyed by the laser, allowing the nail and surrounding skin to remain intact. The laser beams heats the fungus, killing it, without affecting the surrounding tissue. Studies have shown promising results, but it has not been proven that lasers are effective in eradicating toenail fungus infections.
- The laser is a concentrated beam of light energy that vaporizes tissue in the area of treatment, according to Toenail Fungal Treatments 1.
- The fungus is targeted and destroyed by the laser, allowing the nail and surrounding skin to remain intact.
Treatment Procedure and Costs
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The treatment can be performed in the office and takes approximately 20 minutes. Three separate visits may be required, according to Dr. Marc Katz, a podiatrist practicing in Tampa, Fla. The laser beam operates at two separate wavelengths to destroy any pathogens. No anesthesia is required to perform the procedure. To date, this procedure is not covered by medical insurance and can be expensive. Toenail fungus is considered to be a cosmetic disease 12. Laser treatment can cost $1,000 to $2,500 and must be paid by the patient.
- The treatment can be performed in the office and takes approximately 20 minutes.
- Laser treatment can cost $1,000 to $2,500 and must be paid by the patient.
Complications and Side Effects
According to Park Plaza Foot Specialists of Houston, the laser procedure is not painful. It reports no health or age restrictions for having laser treatment performed on fungal toenails. It says there have been no clinical reports of any side effects or adverse reactions, and that shoes and nail polish can be worn directly following treatment. The primary physician should be consulted for advice before undergoing laser treatment for toenail fungus 12.
- According to Park Plaza Foot Specialists of Houston, the laser procedure is not painful.
- The primary physician should be consulted for advice before undergoing laser treatment for toenail fungus 1.
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- Foot and Ankle Center: Laser Treatment of Toenail Fungus
- Toenail Fungus Treatment: Toenail Fungus Laser Treatment: A Comprehensive Guide
- Merck Manual Consumer Version. Onychomycosis. Updated August 2017.
- Blutfield MS, Lohre JM, Pawich DA, Vlahovic TC. The immunologic response to Trichophyton rubrum in lower extremity fungal infections. J Fungi (Basel). 2015;1(2):130–137. doi:10.3390/jof1020130
- Ghannoum M, Isham N. Fungal nail infections (onychomycosis): A never-ending story?. PLoS Pathog. 2014;10(6):e1004105. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004105
- Zang K, Sullivan R, Shanks S. A retrospective study of non-thermal laser therapy for the treatment of toenail onychomycosis. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(5):24-30.
- Park KY, Suh JH, Kim BJ, Kim MN, Hong CK. Randomized clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of combination therapy with short-pulsed 1,064-nm neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet laser and amorolfine nail lacquer for onychomycosis. Ann Dermatol. 2017;29(6):699-705. doi:10.5021/ad.2017.29.6.699
- Shirwaikar AA, Thomas T, Shirwaikar A, Lobo R, Prabhu KS. Treatment of onychomycosis: An update. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2008 Nov-Dec; 70(6): 710–714. doi:10.4103/0250-474X.49088
Kathryn Meininger began writing and publishing poetry in 1967. She was co-founder and editor of the professional magazine "Footsteps" and began writing articles online in 2010. She earned a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine and a Bachelor of Arts in biology from William Paterson University.