Closeup image of podologist checking with magnifying glasses the left foot toe nail suffering from fungus infection. horizontal studio picture on white background.Therapeutic laser therapy is an exciting new technology that helps with a wide variety of common foot, ankle, and toenail problems. Unlike topical medications, which take a long time to show results and often involve thinning the nail, the laser can pass through the nail to target the fungi directly below with no risk of damaging side effects.


What Causes Fungal Toenails?

This condition, known scientifically as onychomycosis, is caused by a familiar class of skin, nail, and hair-loving organisms that are also responsible for athlete’s foot and ringworm, among others. So for starters, if you have any fungal skin infections, you may have unintentionally transferred them to your toenails through direct or indirect contact. Wearing sweaty shoes often is one way to pick up the infection. Another common potential cause is going barefoot in communal areas such as pools, locker rooms, or gyms.

How To Prevent Fungal Toenails

Considering the investment of time required to restore clear nails after a fungal infection, it’s important to protect your nails to prevent a recurrence. It would be a shame to have to go through treatment a second time, so don’t let it happen to you!

To help prevent a re-infection, practice these self-care steps:

  • Wash your feet every day and dry them thoroughly.
  • Use antifungal powders or sprays on feet and inside shoes.
  • Don’t let socks and shoes get damp. Choose breathable fabrics and change pairs as often as needed to keep them dry.
  • Always wear shower shoes or sandals (even flip flops) in communal areas.
  • Trim nails straight across, not too short, and disinfect your clippers afterward.
  • Avoid nail polish and artificial nails, which can trap moisture and create a fungal breeding ground.
  • Avoid nail salons. If you do go, make sure all tools and equipment are fully sterilized between customers (or bring your own tools).

Not sure if you're suffering from a fungal infection? Freeland Foot & Ankle Clinic can take a sample of your nail to confirm the infection and formulate the perfect treatment plan. Click here to learn more!

Does Laser Nail Therapy Work?

For fungal infections, laser therapy cure-rates meet or exceed the rates of traditional antifungal treatments, including orgal antifungals and topical treatments. The laser is applied to the affected nails, allowing the laser energy to penetrate the nail plate to eradicate the fungus underneath. When compared to oral and topical antifungal treatments, there are many benefits to using laser to treat fungal toenails. 

Laser Therapy is Convenient and QuickUnknown woman-doctor writing something at clipboard while sitting in sunny clinic, close-up. Therapist wearing green blouse at work is filling up medication history record. Medicine concept

No pills, medications, or topical solutions that you need to think about every day. No intrusive or time-consuming blood tests. Laser treatment requires only a few minutes per toe, per session. You can be in and out the door within the span of a lunch break or while you’re out running errands. You'll come to the office for three treatments total, with each treatment spaced out a month apart. 

Topical fungal toenail treatments aren't effective when applied over nail polish. Because topical treatments must be used every day, that means sacrificing your pretty pedicure or removing your polish every single day. When you choose laser, your provider or laser technician can remove your polish for you in the office. The other upside? You only have to be treated once a month.

Unfortunately, if your nail has become significantly damaged or misshapen from the fungus, you’ll still have to wait for it to fully grow out—that’s true no matter what treatment method you pursue. But usually, you’ll get better aesthetic results sooner with the laser treatment.

Laser Therapy is Safe

There are no known side effects to laser treatment. Yeah, you heard that correctly. None! The laser does not cut, burn, or sting. It won’t harm the sensitive skin underneath or surrounding your nail, and there are no adverse interactions that would complicate using it with other medications. The beam of light emitted by the laser is precisely tuned so it passes through the nail without much trouble and poses no threat to your body’s cells—but it is deadly for the fungus. After the session, you go right back to your normal daily routine.

Patient having laser treatment fungal infection on toenail, close-up. Onychomycosis treatment with a medical laser at a clinicLaser Therapy is Just Better Than Oral Antifungal Pills

If laser is the Mustang of fungal nail treatments, oral anti-fungals are a rickety tricycle with missing handlebars. At every area where oral and topic anti-fungals show their limitations, laser treatment excels. Additionally, laser therapy is safe for those with liver issues, breastfeeding moms, and more, unlike oral terbinafine, which cannot be taken by patients with elevated liver enzymes or mothers who are nursing. 

While most people can tolerate oral anti-fungals, they can experience very unpleasant side effects. Milder drawbacks might include nausea, headaches, and rashes. More serious side effects can include kidney or liver damage, and weakening of the heart’s ability to contract. (In the most severe circumstances, the medications lead to liver or heart failure.)

Oral anti-fungals don’t always “play nice” with other medications (including some relatively common ones) and can be dangerous when used at the same time as other drugs. During the treatment course, you may need to come back occasionally for blood testing to ensure your safety.

Oral anti-fungal medications also have an annoying tendency to fail far more often than we’d hope. Even the most effective drugs on the market can only manage about a 70% overall cure rate by the end of the treatment course, with other anti-fungal pills battling closer to 60-40 or even 50-50. And if you’re a senior or have poor circulation related to a condition like diabetes, it only stacks the odds further against you. 

How Much Does Laser Nail Therapy Cost?

Laser nail therapy isn't billable through most commercial insurance, but packages are affordable and some people find them more convenient than applying a topical treatment or taking a pill every day. That's because the treatment only requires 3-4 sessions spanning several months. After these sessions, your provider should follow up to see how well the treatment worked. Package pricing ranges from $300 to $400 dollars, which includes all three sessions. Follow-up appointments and consultations are covered by insurance.

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