Onychomycosis (Toenail Fungus)
Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the toenails or fingernails. This ailment causes fingernails or toenails to thicken, discolor, disfigure, and split. At first glance, onychomycosis appears to be only a cosmetic concern. However, without treatment, the toenails can become abnormally thick forcing the toe to press against the inside of the shoes, causing pressure, irritation, and pain.
Generally, onychomycosis does host any symptoms. Individuals seek treatment for cosmetic reason, not because they are experiencing pain. However, if the disease continues to progress without treatment, onychomycosis may interfere with standing, walking, and exercising.
Onychomycosis is easily identified by its appearance. However, there are similar conditions and infections that can cause the nails to host a similar appearance to onychomycosis. Onychomycosis is generally established by laboratory tests before beginning treatment. Treatments for this condition can be long, expensive, and have associated health risks.
Risk factors making one more susceptible to onychomycosis include:
Showering in communal showers—such as fitness clubs
Habitually wearing shoes don’t allow proper airflow
Treatment options vary by individual and severity of the ailment.
Talk with your doctor about what treatments will work best for you.
Laser Nail Therapy (Pin Pointe Foot Laser)
5 Things You Should Know About Laser Treatment for Nail Fungus
Until recently, no treatment for nail fungus has clearly distinguished itself as the “gold standard” due to less than optimal results and potentially harmful side effects. However, with the implementation of the laser for fungal toenail treatment, it has quickly emerged as the most effective and least harmful option for curing toenail fungus. Nail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a fungal infection that causes the nails to grow thick, discolored and brittle.
It is usually seen in the nails of the feet because of the heat, humidity and darkness produced by the shoe, which happens to be the optimal environment for fungal growth. Nail fungus is not just a cosmetic problem as it can cause painful ingrown toenails due to deformity of the nail plate as a result of the fungal penetration. It can also cause bacterial infection due to physical trauma to the surrounding toes from the large, thick nail plate. Finally, it can cause pain from shoe pressure due to the thickness of the nail. This treatment is not covered by insurance plans since it is considered a cosmetic procedure, but you can use your FSA/HSA for this medical treatment.
Here are 5 things that you should know about laser treatment for fungal toenails…
1. It Is 75% – 80% Effective – While the laser for fungal toenails is the best treatment option available at this time, it is not 100% effective. In a few of the most severe cases, it may be necessary to implement alternative treatment options such as permanent removal of the nail or adding on an oral medication with the laser nail therapy. That is why it is important to have it treated as soon as it is noticed.
2. It Is Not Painful and Does Not Require Anesthesia – Laser treatment for fungal toenails is performed in the office and usually lasts 20-30 minutes. No anesthesia is required as it does not cause pain and patients put their shoes on and go about the rest of their day with no pain.
3. In 75-80% of the cases, laser treatment is enough to eliminate the problem (if you follow all the post treatment instructions) ; however, in some of the more stubborn or severe cases it is necessary to repeat treatment multiple times in order to completely eradicate the fungus.
4. Nail Fungus Can Come Back – Even though the laser may have completely eliminated the fungus, it can always come back, just like the common cold or any other type of infection. However, with continued regular applications of a topical antifungal solution/polish for protection, re-infection is uncommon.
5. Results Are Not Immediate – Even though the fungus is reduced following the laser nail treatment, the toenail’s appearance will not change for some time. It takes about 12-24 months for the nail to grow out completely and return to a normal, healthy looking nail. However, there is a cosmetic restoration procedure performed in the office directly over the existing nail to immediately return a healthy looking appearance to the nail. As the cosmetic nail grows out, the new healthy nail grows in with no obvious change in appearance. The procedure takes about 15-60 minutes (depending on how many toenails you would like to have done) and is painless.
When considering laser treatment for fungal toenails, it is important to evaluate all options based on the severity of the case. However, the sooner it is treated, the better the results will be. Schedule an appointment with one of our podiatrists and see if Laser Therapy is right for you!
Is Laser Therapy For Toenail Fungus Safe for Me?
Unlike some harsh medicines people take or apply for toenail fungus, laser therapy is completely safe and free from side effects. You may feel a warming or pin-prick sensation on your nail, but this goes away as soon as the laser therapy ends. Most people feel no pain at all. If you have neuropathy or moderate to severe peripheral arterial disease, you would not be a toenail laser candidate, but we have other treatment options that you may qualify for.
If I Do Not Treat My Toenail Fungus, What Might Happen?
Read this list of symptoms you could experience if you do not treat the fungus and it spreads:
Green, yellow or white nails
Spots on the nails
Thick nails you cannot cut
Nails lose their shine
Nails get crumbly and weak