About 10 million Americans have fungal toenails and some reports estimate that almost 40 million people in the United States are affected by toenail fungus. The medical term for toenail fungus is onychomycosis, pronounced on - EE - ko - my - KO - sis. Seniors, men, athletes, diabetics, those with poor circulation and sweaty feet are at greater risk of developing toenail fungus. Fungus likes to grow in moist, warm places, such as shoes, areas surrounding hot tubs, saunas, public pools and showering facilities at the gym. Contact with the fungus in individuals who are susceptible can result in a fungal infection affecting the toenails. The result is thickened, yellowish-brown, brittle, misshapen toenails.
Toenail fungus is difficult to treat despite a variety of treatment methods available. There are many over the counter topical treatments, prescription topical treatments and prescription oral medications. These treatments work with varying degrees of success and depend on the severity of the infection and the individual being treated. Oral prescription medications (pills) are more effective than topical treatments and although they are generally considered safe, there are some some side effects and interactions with other medications.
There is a new option for treating toenail fungus. The PinPointe laser is a special-purpose Nd:YAG laser that has been used for hair removal, but is calibrated specifically to target fungus underneath toenails. The PinPointe FootLaser is the first medical device to obtain regulatory clearance from the FDA for the safe and effective treatment of onychomycosis. A recent study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that 81% of patients who had treatment with the Nd:Yag laser had moderate to complete clearance 4 months after the final treatment. Complete treatment periods are generally 12 months.
Laser treatment is painless and takes approximately 30 minutes, depending on the number of nails being treated. Laser treatment of toenail fungus has very few side effects and has been proven to be a safe treatment for fungal toenails.
Dr. Christine Dobrowoski practices at Sierra Foot & Ankle in Gardnerville, Nevada. Have a question you'd like us to Blog about? Send us an email. For an appointment, use our online Appointment Request or call our office (775) 783-8037.