Onychomycosis is a fancy name for an embarrassing condition: toenail fungus – an unsightly and sometimes painful infection that causes yellowing, discoloring, and thickening of the nail.
Left untreated, it spreads under the nail causing it to become brittle and inflamed, and sometimes resulting in the nail loosening and pulling away from the nail bed.
Although anyone at any age can develop fungal nail infections, it’s generally more common in older adults.
The reason being that as the body (and nails) age, they become brittle and dry. As a result, these small cracks that develop allow fungi to enter the body. Also, older adults tend to develop poor blood circulation to their feet and this can also help to develop toenail fungus.
You can identify whether you may have toenail fungus if your toenails exhibit any or all of the symptoms below are present.
- Thickened nails
- Whitish to yellow-brown discoloration
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged
- Distorted in shape
- A dark color, caused by debris building up under your nail
- Smellling slightly foul
Toenail fungus is surprisingly common – about 35 million of us are walking around with one or more affected nails.
The condition is often caused by…
- dermatophyte fungi
- pathogens such as nondermatophyte molds and yeasts (including Candida albicans)
- or trauma
- athlete’s foot
And it’s far from benign: aside from making walking or wearing shoes painful, onychomycosis can cause complications in people with diabetes or compromised immune systems.
Treatment For Toenail Fungus
Until now, toenail fungus has been very difficult to treat: oral prescriptions are only effective about 60 percent of the time and take months to work, while over-the-counter remedies can’t really penetrate as far as the nail bed and are ineffective, at best.
However, there is a new, cutting-edge treatment that has shown an 85 percent effective rate in eliminating toenail fungus in my office: laser therapy.
Our powerful yet gentle, state of the art laser gives us a very safe, pain-free way to kill the organisms at the source – without any downtime for you, and without the potential harmful side effects that oral medications can cause.
The treatment is simple: we pass the laser beam over the infected nail and the adjacent skin several times during the procedure, heating and killing the fungus under the nail.
Treatment takes about 30 minutes, depending on the number of toes involved, and you can go back to your normal activities as soon as you leave our office. You’ll feel a warm sensation in your toe while the laser energy is working and, possibly, a warm “pinch” at the end of the process – that’s it!
There are no health or age restrictions and studies have shown no side effects or negative reactions to laser therapy of infected toenails.
Often, one treatment is enough; however, you may need more than one procedure depending on the severity the fungal involvement. Best of all, you should begin to see new and healthy nail growth within the first four months following your laser therapy.
Note: Currently, we are not aware of health insurance policies that include this laser treatment for toenail fungus