If you are over 60, chances are one in five that you share this problem— one of the most common foot ailments in the western world.
Our topic today is toenail fungus, a pervasive and annoying condition. If you are
Fortunately, a procedure using laser light energy has been found to be effective in killing the fungus that hides— and thrives— under the toenail.
Oddly enough, onychomycosis is not found in tropical climates This could be because people who live in those regions are not in the habit of wearing confining footwear (no winter boots, for instance). Where toenail fungus does thrive is in warm, moist environments such as your local gym, high school locker room or pool area. Any injury to your toes will also increase your susceptibility to toenail fungus.
Onychomycosis has a reputation for being one of the most stubborn conditions to eradicate. For one thing, toes are not as well-supplied with blood as the fingers, which makes them slower to heal. Secondly, toenails do not replace themselves quickly; you can go a year or more before the nail shows all new tissue.
Now Comes Laser Light
In the past, toenail treatments were limited to a topical solution— like nail polish— that you applied regularly to the toenail. The problem with these medications is that the nailbed actually acts like protective housing for the dermatophyte (the fungus that causes the infection). So you could faithfully apply the treatment for months, and see little effect.
Another popular treatment was oral, or medication by mouth. But unfortunately, these drugs affect the entire body. The possible side effects include liver damage, especially in older people. And again, there is no great body of evidence to show their effectiveness.
One newer therapy, laser light treatment by FDA-approved, Cutera Genesis Plus, shows a great deal of promise. A laser produces coherent light energy of enough strength and at a sufficient wavelength to target certain organisms and destroy them— without destroying the surrounding nail and tissue.
Our patients who’ve been treated with Cooltouch/Cutera report the following:
- some improvement after the first treatment
- gradual clearing with each subsequent treatment as the healthy nail regrows
- no adverse effects such as are reported with oral treatment
- greater convenience for the patient, who is not required to apply a topical solution twice a day
How Do I Know If I Have Toenail Fungus?
Most people who have onychomycosis are well aware of the problem; in fact, patients who are afflicted take pains to try to hide their toes. If you have any doubt, look for yellowing or thickening nails, breakage or crumbling, distorted or discoloring caused by debris building up under the nail.
If you suspect that you have toenail fungus, don’t wait until it becomes obvious to the world. The earlier you begin treatment, the better your chances of beating it.
While toenail fungus is irritating and disfiguring, it is not a health threat, per se, unless you have diabetes or another condition associated with poor circulation. In that case, you need to take every precaution to maintain healthy feet because secondary infections are always a concern in patients with diabetes.