Texas Foot Doctor's Blog
Posts for: October, 2010
Nail Fungus Treatment
Nail fungus infection is a condition which can be embarrassing and even painful.
Using a new off-label treatment, in just 16 minutes, we can treat the pathogens that cause Toenail Fungus (Onychomycosis). The toenail fungus procedure is safe and without discomfort, in clinical studies the new treatment has shown an 88% effective rate, compared to leading prescription topical treatments for toenail fungus that only provide an 8% to 35% effective rate after months of treatment. This gives patients significant improvements in the health and appearance of their treated nails.
The treatment is drug-free, there are none of the potential life threatening risks and possible liver damage associated with some prescription oral toenail fungus treatments that only provide a 40% to 50% effective rate.
Though the treatment is not yet FDA approved for the treatment of onychomycosis it has shown great promise in clinical studies which have been done are extremely encouraging, and to date, no known side effects have been found. Long-term effects seem just as promising. Coupled with good hygiene of the toes, and follow up treatment with a topical spray, the patient should experience good, long-term result in the elimination of the toe nail fungus.
This procedure surpasses those of the more dangerous medications with an effective success rate between 88-89% in clinical studies showing the fungus to be destroyed, safely.
What is Nail Fungus?
Also known as: Onychomycosis or Tinea Unguium
Nail fungus (onychomycosis) is a fungal nail infection of the toenails. - These fungal infections usually cause discoloration, thickening and often softening of the nails. - Nail fungus or fungal nails is a difficult condition to treat and may often cause permanent damage to the nails and possibly nail loss.
Nail fungus is made up of tiny organisms (Tinea Unguium) that can infect fingernails and toenails. The nails of our fingers and toes are very effective barriers. This barrier makes it quite difficult for a superficial infection to invade the nail. Once an infection has set in however, the same barrier that was so effective in protecting us against infection now works against us, making it difficult to treat the infection.
More than 30 million people in the United States get this fungus. The fungus lives underneath the nail. The nail provides a safe place for the fungus and protects it while it grows, since fungus like dark and damp places. This is why it's hard to reach and stop nail fungus.
Nail polish and plastic or acrylic nails can trap moisture and fungi. Most often, nail fungus appears in the toenails because socks and shoes keep the toenails dark, warm, and moist. The toenails are 6 times more likely to be infected than fingernails. Fungi often cause the area around the base (and the sides) of the nail to become red and irritated. At first, the edges or base of the nail is affected. As it spreads, the nail and nail bed show changes. There is often mild discomfort, itchiness, or even pain around the cuticles (flesh surrounding the nails). Bleeding or detachment of the cuticles may occur. The nail can become discolored-yellow-green, dark yellow-brown, and sometimes white spots are seen. The nails thicken and develop abnormal grooves, lines, and tiny punched out holes.
How does the treatment work?
The laser is a unique dual- wave-length near-infrared diode specifically designed to treat fungal pathogens associated with onychomycosis without causing thermal harm to adjacent healthy tissue. The wave lengths have a unique photo lethal effect on fungal pathogens.
Is laser treatment painful?
The laser light beam has no effect on healthy tissue. Patients should experience no discomfort during or after the treatment. The sensation associated with the treatment has been described as warming and some have reported a slight pressure. No reports of pain during or after treatments.
How long does the treatment take?
It takes approximately 16 minutes to treat one to four toes and 32 minutes for any additional. Mild to moderate cases take 1 to 2 touch ups after the first treatment. Severe cases may need 3 to 4 touch ups. The first touch up should be done 14 days after the treatment all additional are 60 days apart.
Does it really work?
Clinical studies to date reveal that over 88% of treated patients show significant improvement. In most cases the nail fungus pathogen is completely eliminated.
Patients were able to grow out a regular appearing nail after just one laser treatment. After that treatment, the toenail should grow usually in one year if there's a healthy bed to do so. The success rate here is similar to the oral fungal pill without the risks or remembering to take the medication.
How soon will I see improvement?
On average, a toenail will replace itself every 9 to 12 months. Healthy new growth will be visible within the first 3 months. However, in the first 14 days you may notice less pain, nails are less brittle. In 30- 60 days you may notice decreased odor and color change. At 60 to 180 days you may notice clear nail growth at the base of the nail.
Is this treatment safe?
Yes. In clinical studies there have been no adverse reactions, injuries, disabilities or known side effects. As you may know, the use of medication available today for treatment of fungus nails carries with it possible systemic involvement (commonly the liver and kidney). Or the pain and possible infection associated with removal of the nail. This laser treatment does not carry these types of risks.
Can anyone have this treatment done?
No. If you are pregnant or taking blood thinners or have a mole or dark spot on the nail to be treated or have had a recent injury to the nail.
Do I have to take any drugs as part of the treatment?
No medication are required. We do recommend the use of antifungal sprays to reduce the fungal load to be used in conjunction with the treatment.
Can I walk after the treatment?
Yes, you will be able to walk out of the office just as well as you walked in. The treatment does not harm you in any way.
Can I wear nail polish after or during the treatment?
No, Not until the nail has grown completely out since the nail polish provides a moisture barrier and a dark place for the fungus to regrow. Nail polish application and removal in less than a 24 hour period is acceptable.
Nail polish can not be worn during treatment as the laser treatment does require the nail to be free of polish and cut short for the treatment.
Does my insurance pay for this?
Currently this procedure is not included as a health insurance benefit; Insurance plans consider this procedure a cosmetic or aesthetic procedure and therefore do not provide coverage. If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA), Medical Individual Retirement Account (Medical IRA) or other Flexible Medical Spending Accounts (Medical FSA), care credit, you can pay for the procedure with these funds. Otherwise, payment can be made with cash, credit or debit card.
How to Avoid Toe Fungus
Fungus can enter the nail through a cuticle trimming, through an injury near the nail or even a crack on the surface of the skin near the nail.
Killing the nail fungus does not mean you will not get it again. What you need to do is practice good foot hygiene, which, as simple as it sounds, is really tough for some people.
Avoid moist, wet environments, meaning public showers, pools and locker rooms. You've got to be careful when you go to the beach, and even when you go to a friend's apartment.
Be careful when you go for a pedicure. The pedicurist should avoid trimming the cuticles too short, which creates more opportunities for fungus to infect the nail.
Pay attention to your home. You have to clean out your shower stall and check that bath mat you've been stepping on for the past few months -- it can be infested with fungus.
And check your shoes. Fungus could be alive and well in those favorite sneakers you've been wearing for years.