Laser Treatment of Toenail Fungus
In some cases, laser treatment of toenail fungus may be necessary.
Toenail fungus is an embarrassing situation for many folks especially when they can’t show off their feet in public. As the fungal infection continues to develop, it makes severe nail changes making your nail brittle, distorted, thickened or crumbled.
For toenail fungus, laser treatment might be the answer which works effectively for treating it. There are various forms of lasers which work effectively for treating the toenail fungus or onychomycosis. The texture and the appearance of the nail completely change when the toenail fungal infection occurs.
CHANGES THAT OCCUR DURING THE FUNGAL INFECTION
- It results in discoloration either white, yellow or brown
- The flaky debris might appear underneath the nails
- The nail might get detached from the nail bed
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR TOENAIL FUNGUS
The gold standard treatment plan for toenail fungus is the use of anti-fungal medications either oral or topical. The reason is that they have been highly effective for depletion of infection from the toenail in the past. However, these anti-fungal medications come with adverse effects along with potential drug interactions.
There are many different options available to treat a toenail fungal infection. One of them is laser treatment, which is gaining interest by the doctors for treating these fungal infections. The demand for laser treatment for toenail fungus is growing in the market and it is now available in many podiatry offices.
LASER DEVICES FOR TOENAIL FUNGUS
The FDA Considers various laser devices affective.
- PinpointFoot laser
- Genesis Plus
According to FDA, these laser devices are effective for clearing the toenail infections partially or temporarily. It shows that according to the evidence the toenail fungus cleared by these laser devices might result in possible recurrence.
Something to bare in mind though, is that all treatment options for toenail fungus have a risk of recurrence. Laser treatment of toenail fungus is a new option, and it will take time to gather enough data to be able to accurately compare the results to other treatment options.
HOW DO YOU TREAT NAIL FUNGUS WITH LASERS?
Before we answer this question, let’s have a look at how the lasers treat fungal infections.
Laser devices release the energy, which causes heat over the tissues when it makes contact. According to the theory, it is determined that lasers perform the anti-fungal activity when the fungal cells absorb their heat.
This heat then kills the fungal microbes. The laser devices emit the energy which passes through the toenail and nail bed, reaching the fungus.
The ability of the lasers to reach the fungus beneath the nail bed is the reason why the lasers produce the promising results in eliminating the toenail fungus. The lasers have different wavelengths so you can use the specific ones for minimising the level of heat over the patient’s skin.
DOES LASER TREATMENT FOR TOENAIL FUNGUS WORK?
During the initial consultation for toenail fungus, the symptoms of the nails are evaluated along with some operation of the nails. The affected nails are treated by the laser device, in a session that could last 30 minutes.
For some patients, the laser treatment is effective in a single visit, however, other patients might need additional visits for enjoying the promising results. It takes over 6-12 months to identify the visible results.
Other than that the type of laser devices or the treatment sessions also have a great dependence on whether the treatment will work or not.
To evaluate the effectiveness of laser treatment for toenail fungus, lets’ have a look at
The clinical evidence
- According to a study conducted on 131 patients, Q-clear showed improvement in the toenail infection. Patients had a 95% success rate with only 2 sessions, according to this study.
- Another study was conducted where short pulse laser therapy was used. It concluded that laser therapy showed some improvement when performed on severe cases but did not cure them completely. However, in another study, short pulse lasers did not show any visible results with laser therapy when performed on 33 patients.
- According to the retrospective study, Luna lasers treated the toenail infections when applied for four sessions. After six months, it showed improved and new nail growth.
- Long pulse therapy when performed on 120 patients for single session also showed improvement.
After these clinical studies have been evaluated, it shows that laser treatment is not effective for situations when all treatment options have failed.
It is reasonably safe and quite effective when used in comparison to other treatment options. In addition, to this, there needs to be further evidence of long term studies rather than the short term ones to evaluate the complete effectiveness of lasers for curing the infection.
LASER TREATMENT OF TOENAIL FUNGUS SUCCESS RATE
The past treatment option with anti fungal medications seems undesirable because they do not penetrate deep enough in order to eradicate the fungus. Topical medications are only 10% effective while the oral medications are 30% effective with toxic effects on the liver and kidneys.
According to different studies, laser treatment is effective for treating the toenail fungal infections with around 80% success rates. The procedure continues for the duration of 10-20 minutes without any downside.
Additional treatment sessions might be needed depending on the severity of the condition. If the laser treatment ends up being successful, it will result in the formation of new nails which takes around 6-12 months.
TAKEAWAYS ON THE LASER TREATMENT FOR TOENAIL FUNGAL INFECTIONS
The laser treatment has shown many positive results but it needs more critical studies.
The cost of the laser treatment is the main issue to consider it as a viable option. This may be a treatment option, once you have undergone all other treatment options. However, it is still not affordable for most patients when compared to other treatment options.
Laser treatment of toenail fungus is by far not the only option. When considering using a laser, make sure that it has been approved by the FDA. As you can see in this letter, that is not always the case.