What is Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus, formally known as onychomycosis, isn’t pretty. It’s an infection of the toenail, fingernail or skin under the nail. Yeasts, molds or fungi can cause a fungal infection. In most cases, fungi comes in direct contact with the toenail through nail clippers, public showers or pools or nail injury, and fungi thrives in warm, moist places.
If a patient leaves toenail fungus untreated, it can spread, causing more noticeable symptoms: darkened, yellow or white toenail, thicker or brittle nail. In severe cases, the nail may split from the nail bed. Toenail fungus is hard to get rid of—it can reoccur over time. Before an infection gets worse, a patient should seek professional care.
Common Toenail Fungus Treatments
To combat toenail fungus, there are common at-home and prescribed treatments. Depending on the severity of the toenail fungus, treatment options will vary. For mild to moderate toenail fungus, topical and oral antifungal treatments can suppress the fungus infection and symptoms. Unfortunately, these treatments can’t always promise long-lasting results. In recent years, podiatrists have been looking at laser technology as the next best thing for pesky toenail fungus.
Laser Treatment and Toenail Fungus
The FDA has approved some lasers for toenail fungus treatment. A laser procedure is increasingly popular for patients continually battling toenail fungus. How does this laser technology work? The laser’s beam runs over the entire affected nail, allowing the pigment in the fungi to absorb the laser light and create heat. The heat is produced so it can kill the organisms causing the toenail infection.
Studies have shown that laser treatment has no negative side effects, compared to traditional oral antifungals. The beam doesn’t harm the soft, healthy tissue around and underneath the nail bed—it only targets the infected area.
For patients, laser treatment produces little or no discomfort, which means the procedure doesn’t call for a local anesthetic.
The main reason for laser treatment is to stimulate healthy nail growth.
Because of the natural environment, patients are still vulnerable to fungi. It’s important to take extra care of feet by keeping them clean and dry.