Toenail fungus is a common problem for many people, usually adults, but can be a pain to treat because topical treatments struggle to penetrate the nail and get to the fungus beneath, and systemic treatments are not always effective and have some serious side effects. But there are alternative treatments you can try, natural or homeopathic and there is now the option of using a laser for toenail fungus. Here we will look at what using a laser for toenail fungus involves, how successful it is, and whether it is the treatment choice for you.
For over 30 years researchers have been looking at using a laser for toenail fungus cases although how they expected to use them has changed. Back in the 1980s they looked at using a laser to make holes or grooves in the nail which would then allow topical medications to be more effective. However this was not successful, it was expensive and didn’t seem to make any difference to helping the topical medication reach the and treat the fungus.
Over time lasers evolved and a different approach was established. This time research was looking at using laser light energy set at certain wavelengths to target and eliminate the fungus, but still leaving the skin and nail intact and undamaged.
Now there are a couple of companies waiting for FDA approval for the specific purpose of using a laser for toenail fungus. But there are some that are using it already rather than waiting. Clinical trials have only been done in small numbers and though results are promising, this often happens in small trials so it is really too early to say exactly how effective using a laser for toenail fungus is until more research is done.
It is meant to be effective whatever severity of infection you have, mild on one nail will only need one visit, more severe or spread over more nails will need more. It is pain free, and there should be no damage caused to surrounding skin, or to the nail itself. The laser is guided across the nail and is meant to target the fungus beneath it and kills it. As with any other toenail fungus treatment you still have to wait 6 months or more for the healthy nail to grow through, but supporters and sellers of this treatment point out it takes less effort to treat it, no repeating a pill, topical application, soak daily for months. And at the moment results suggest laser has a better success rate than other treatments, in the 80 to 90% range.
Apart from the lack of long or larger studies there is the cost. Using a laser for toenail fungus can cost anywhere from $800 to $1200 in the United States, prices will vary from state to state, and internationally but it is an expensive procedure. Because Onychomycosis is categorized as a cosmetic disease, laser treatment is not covered by health insurance and must be paid for in full by the patient. Therefore is your problem enough to warrant such a cost – remembering that if your problem is more severe and you need several visits, the price will go up.
If you have exhausted all other methods, the condition is having a negative impact on your life, and you can afford it, then it is safe to try. But for many people that kind of money is too much.
Dr. Soumya Podduturi is an Aesthetic Dermatologist, Dermatologist, Dermatosurgeon, Trichologist, Pediatric Dermatologist, Cosmetologist with 8 Years Experience