Onychomycosis is the medical name for 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, yellow, thickened and sometimes inflamed. Occasionally it can result in the nail loosening and pulling away from the nail bed.
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 a dermatophyte fungi or pathogen but it can also result from heat, humidity, or trauma, and from physical conditions such as diabetes and athlete’s foot. 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.
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. We use the PinPointe Laser which was the first laser approved by the FDA for increase in clear nail. The PinPointe is a powerful yet gentle, state of the art laser which 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. The treatment regimen is 3 treatments spaced thirty days apart, however, you may need more than three treatments 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.