Toenail fungus is no picnic. What begins as a few white and yellow spots beneath the nail can quickly spiral into thickened, discolored nails with crumbling edges. Diabetic patients must be especially vigilant about infections to their feet, which could result in amputation if left unchecked! The Washington Post reports that patients can spend “years and hundreds of dollars trying to clear the infection with drugs, topical treatments and home remedies, sometimes to no avail.”
Laser Fungus Treatment Pros
Hope has arrived in the form of laser fungus treatment — which costs $1,000 a treatment and is not covered by insurance, but is said to be more effective than oral medication like Lamisil, which only works on two out of three patients. Several years ago, the FDA cleared the first laser, PinPointe, for the “temporary increase of clear nail” in patients with onychomycosis toenail fungus. They cleared the second, GenesisPlus, in April of 2011. The good news is that patients do not report any side effects from laser treatment for toenail fungus and there is no increased risk of liver complications (as there is with oral medications).
Laser Fungus Treatment Cons
On the downside, patients must wait until the infected toenail completely grows out — not to mention, there is no guarantee the fungus is gone forever. “I never use the term ‘cured’ with toenail fungus,” said Washington podiatrist Stephen J. Kominsky. “With a cure, people think there’s no chance for a recurrence. In this case, there is a chance.” He said patients should expect to return to his office within 5 years with at least a minimal re-infection.
Why Is It So Hard To Eliminate Toenail Fungus?
We feel the reason so many people suffer from repeated fungal infections is that they’re putting their feet back into contaminated shoes each day. You can think of your shoes as petri dishes full of bacteria. Sources for fungus include pedicures, locker rooms, public pools, and essentially any place that is “dark and moist,” says Dr. Kominsky.
Washington podiatrist Lee Firestone estimates that at least half of his patients over 70 have toenail fungus. There is really no avoiding fungus. The best we can do is keep our feet as clean, sanitary and dry as possible.
While we wash our socks with each use, the shoe is largely ignored. This is a problem because fungal infections can easily traverse through the sock to the foot and toenail. “A fungus sheds ‘spores’, like tiny seeds, which wait for the right moment to grow into new fungus. The most common place for these spores to collect is in shoes,” the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology tells us. “Therefore, after effective treatment, a fungus may recur quickly where spores are present. Fungus doesn’t care what color the socks are. White socks offer no advantage.”
Home remedies for fungus nails rarely work because homemade rinses, expensive ointments and over-the-counter creams are unable to penetrate to the root. The Washington Post cites a retiree from Fairfax, Virginia named Richard who started with laser treatment for his yellowed, thickened nails — which did penetrate to the root — and followed up by purchasing all new socks and SteriShoe®, upon the recommendation of his doctor.
We’re so glad we could help Richard out! The SteriShoe® device uses UV rays to sanitize shoes. You may have heard of the UV light devices used to clean bacteria from toothbrushes. It’s the same exact technology! It’s the perfect complement to people who have shelled out the cash for the toenail fungus laser treatment and would like to maximize their investment by doing all they can to prevent a recurrence. SteriShoe® works by inserting the device into shoes, turning it on, and letting the UV light kill off toenail-fungus-causing bacteria within 45 minutes.
Is it realistic to presume a toenail fungus infection will never occur again with treatment? Probably not. Yet, it’s sensible and realistic to reduce our risk using the most effective tools on the market.