What is a Toenail Fungus?
Nail fungus or Onychomycosis is a fungal nail infection that more often affects toenails than fingernails. This infection comes when a fungus infects one or more of toenails. It usually develops on nails that are often exposed to moist and warm environments, like sweaty shoes, shower floors or swimming pool area. It usually begins as a yellow or white spot beneath the surface of a toenail which, if left untreated reaches deeper in the nail and spreads to other nails. Besides aesthetics, toenail fungus causes unpleasant smell joined with pain in the nail area. Toenail fungus infection may be very difficult to cure; it may be very persistent and sometimes it takes months to get rid of it, but different treatments which help to clear up nail fungus are available today. One of the new techniques in the treatment of toenail fungus is a laser treatment, the cutting edge on toe nail care.
How Does the Laser Treatment for Toenail Fungus Work?
Laser treatment for Onychomycosis or toenail fungus works by applying a focused beam of light (laser) directly onto infected toenail. The laser targets fungal infection by penetrating the toenail, the area below the toenail and the nail bed. Laser toenail fungus treatment destroys the fungal infection by affecting cells that are responsible for the infection. Treatments usually take 30 to 45 minutes up to 10 toenails. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may need one to four sessions.
Where the Laser Treatment Can be Carried Out?
In the U.S.A. companies that have received Food and Drug Administration clearance (FDA) for the Onychomycosis treatment laser are: Alma Lasers, Inc., PinPointe USA Inc. of Chico, California, CoolTouch Inc., of Rosevile, California and Nomir Medical Technologies Inc., of Brooklyn, NY.
Alma Lasers, one of the leaders in laser, radiofrequency, light and ultrasound medical and aesthetic devices, had received the FDA approval for their innovative Harmony ®XL laser protocol application for the laser treatment of nail fungus.
PinPointe USA, Inc. is the leading and also was the first company in laser treatment devices. It is specialized for laser light-based therapies for treating nail fungus. NuvoLase Inc., has attained from PinPointe USA all rights, resources and intellectual properties associated with the PinPointe™ FootLaser™. The PinPointe FootLaser is a “cold laser” and was the first light-based device to receive FDA clearance to the laser treatment for toenail fungus.
CoolTouch Inc. received FDA approval for their VARIABreeze™ 1064nm laser system for treating toenail fungus in November 2011. The CoolBreeze laser procedure takes only twenty minutes.
Noveon Laser from Nomir Medical manufacturers, approved by the FDA for treating podiatry and dermatology conditions uses dual laser frequencies selected to eliminate or reduce the pain that usually go along with other laser therapies.
Q-Clear™ Laser manufactured by Light Age Inc, the latest, and certainly the best laser thus far introduced for nail fungus. The biggest difference between the Q-Clear™ and any other device is the use of Q-Switched 1064 Nd:Yag technology. This extremely rapid pulsing application targets the nail fungus specifically without the patient incurring any sensation of heat. Non Q-switched 1064 Yag lasers, have longer pulse durations which create the effect of heating the water content in the nail bed. This is far less effective at destroying the nail fungus and almost always results in the need for multiple return treatments. The Q-Clear™ used in practice since the beginning of 2012 and the results have been nothing short of extraordinary, a great success rate of 97% achieved in clinical studies (on 100 patients), this results was achieved in ONE TREATMENT only. The Q-Clear™ is actually the FIRST ever Q-Switched Nd:Yag 1064 laser specifically FDA-approved for onychomycosis (nail fungus).
Today many medical centers in all U.S.?. major cities like Los Angeles, LA, Miami, FL or Philadelphia, PA have the necessary high-tech laser equipment and can support toenail fungus laser treatment.
In Canada, Feet Docs was the first Canadian clinic to get a laser unit for treating nail fungus. The protocol has been approved by the FDA.
In Toronto, Cure Nail Centre provides first Health Canada- approved laser treatment for toenail fungus with PinPointe™ FootLaser™.
Types of Laser Treatments for Toenail Fungus
Some wavelengths of light used in laser treatment of toenail fungus include:
- 660nm (nanometer) red visible light;
- 940nm near infrared light and
- 1064nm Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet) laser
The last one, NdYAG lasers are optically pumped lasers that use laser diodes of flash lamps to generate laser energy in the 1064nm spectrum. This is the infrared light produced by passing photons through a crystal of yttrium aluminum garnet doped with triply ionized neodymium which replaces the yttrium in the garnet. Photo source: 866866feet.com
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of toenail fungus treatment with laser technology can range from $700 to $1,500 for a treatment course. It isn’t covered by the health insurance since it is considered an aesthetic procedure. However, the cost of toenail fungus laser treatment generally will range based on the severity of the infection and only your physician or a podiatrist can determine if you need the laser toenail fungus treatment and the number of the treatments necessary.
Effects of Laser Toenail Fungus Treatment
If you are planning to undergo laser toenail fungus treatment, keep in mind that it isn’t a cure. Since the fungus is living in the pores and cracks of the toenails, a lifestyle change is needed in order to prevent the infection to reappear. Therefore, laser toenail fungus treatment is only a part of the treatment in case of toenail fungal infection. Therapy also may include oral medication, or use of home remedies for toenail fungus such as Vicks Vapor Rub®, Listerine® or homeopathic toenail fungus treatment containing natural herbs and always should include a lifestyle change.
Is the Laser Toenail Fungus Treatment Painful?
Undergoing laser toenail fungus treatment should not cause you experience any discomfort or pain during or after the treatment.
Restrictions of Laser Toenail Fungus Treatment
Laser treatment for toenail fungus doesn’t have lasting effects. John Strisower, the founder of PinPointe USA, says patients should expect at least a minimal relapse of the infection within five years after laser treatment.
How the laser treatment for toenail fungus works and how it affects fungi infection isn’t fully understood. There are numerous studies that have been conducted; Nomir says its laboratory research has shown that the laser kills fungus. On the other side, according to CoolTouch, laser only inhibits fungal growth, making the way to the body’s own defense mechanisms to kill the infection and clear the nail.
To Sum Up
Laser treatment is a new safe, quick and pain-free method in treating toenail fungus infection. In numerous studies, it has shown no side effects. Therefore it should be considered as an alternative to oral medications in toenail fungus treatment because of the side effects of oral medication – it carries potential risk of liver and kidney damage. Furthermore, laser treatment isn’t painful at all and can help to get rid of this embarrassing infection in relatively short period of time. For the lasting results, toenail fungus therapy should always include the change of a lifestyle, which includes wearing 100% cotton socks, correct shoe size and regular hygiene of your feet and nails.