Summer is coming and we all want to transition into those seasonal sandals. The Mayo Clinic recommends wearing sandals to let the feet “air out” as much as possible and prevent fungal infections like athlete’s foot. Yet, what if you already have onychomycosis (toenail fungus) and feel embarrassed about your thick, yellowed nails? Laser treatment shows promise to eliminate nail fungus, but is it the real deal? In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons.
Pros of Laser Treatment for Fungal Nails
- No risk of liver damage (as with anti-fungal pills) or need to come back in for liver tests
- Better results than prescription lacquer (which has a cure rate of less than 10%, says the NY Times)
- Less invasive than nail removal or surgery; most patients report no pain whatsoever
- Quick procedure — lasting just 30 minutes
- Done as an in-patient / out-patient treatment
- It’s considered safe and has F.D.A. approval
Cons of Fungal Laser Treatment
- Insurance does not cover treatment
- In some markets, it could cost up to $1,000
- You still have to wait for the nail to grow out
- Repeat procedures are needed in cases of stubborn infections
- There is no guarantee nail fungus will not come back
Does Onychomycosis Laser Treatment Work?
In 2012, a team of researchers in Alberta reviewed all existing literature regarding the efficiency of laser onychomycosis treatment and concluded that laser treatment for fungus nails is the most effective treatment available. The authors noted that one clinical study showed a 100 percent clearance rate in 42 nails over the course of 12 months, without any side-effects. Another study that looked at patients of varying severity found that 85 percent showed improvement after four rounds of treatment over six months.
“As demonstrated by these studies, laser therapy has the potential to be an ideal treatment modality for onychomycosis,” researchers concluded. “Laser therapy is clean, efficient, effective, safe, and tolerable. It delivers an effective therapeutic dose to a limited area, with no potential for drug interactions.”
Who Should Get Onychomycosis Laser Treatment
Given all the pros of using lasers to cure toenail fungus fast, it’s an obvious choice for many patients. Talking to the NY Times, Dr. Boni E. Elewski reports that nail infections “can lead to serious health problems among people with diabetes and immune disorders.” So, if you are in one of these categories, seeking treatment should be a paramount concern.
Likewise, if unsightly fungus nails are putting a damper on your social life, then laser treatment makes sense here as well. However, you must also be in a financial position to afford the treatment and fully committed to preventing its recurrence. Spending a couple hundred or a thousand dollars on a single procedure is nothing to scoff at, but you will need to do your best to limit your exposure to fungi in the future. You’ll need to change wet socks, wear sandals or shower shoes in public places, and clean your shoes with UV light daily for any measure of true success.