Are thick, ugly, discolored fungal toenails a fact of life for you? Are they a constant source of embarrassment and shame? You’re in good company. An estimated 30+ million Americans are fellow sufferers. But the good news is new technologies—specifically laser treatment—have made treatment easier and better than ever.

Have you been dragging your feet about treatment? Did you try before without success, or found that after a few months or years the fungus simply returned? It’s time to book an appointment. We’ll explain why in two equally important parts below.

Part One: Where Traditional Treatments Fall Short

Look, we hear you. Anti-fungal medications (especially oral anti-fungals ) have been the “gold standard” treatment for fungal nails for decades. And yes, as recently as a few months ago—before we got the new laser—it was the main treatment we used in our office. But while it can be effective for some, it’s far from perfect.

Why is it so underwhelming?

It Takes Forever

Okay, not forever. But long enough to be a real inconvenience. To work properly, oral anti-fungals typically require a daily regimen lasting up to three months. Circulation to the toes is limited—especially if you’re older or have diabetes—which slows down the treatment rate considerably.

Topical anti-fungals take even longer, since the nail itself makes a handy protective barrier (from the fungi’s point of view). Treatments that use creams or sprays require weekly nail thinning and daily application for up to an entire year.

Incidentally, you might ask yourself, “Why would anyone bother with topical medications under these circumstances?” Well, that’s because of our next point:

It Can Be Surprisingly Risky

While most people tolerate oral anti-fungals well enough, they can cause very unpleasant side effects. For some people, it can even be dangerous.

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 also 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.

Cure Rates Are Just Not That Great

Oral anti-fungal medications 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. Topicals do even worse, failing more often than they succeed. And if you’re a senior, or have poor circulation related to a condition like diabetes, it only stacks the odds further against you.

Part Two: Why Laser Blows Old Treatment Out of the Water

If laser is the Chevy Corvette of fungal nail treatment, oral anti-fungals are a rickety tricycle with missing handlebars. (Okay, that’s probably an exaggeration, but you get the point.) At every area where oral and topic anti-fungals show their limitations, laser treatment excels:

It’s Convenient and Quick

No daily pills or weekly nail thinning—or any medications at all. 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 doing chores.

Most people begin to see some clearing after the first treatment, and the average treatment course is only three sessions spaced out over a few weeks. (Some people may require one or two additional sessions to eliminate a particularly stubborn infection.) We’ll take that over daily pills any day!

Unfortunately, if your nail has become significantly damaged or misshapen, 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.

It’s 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.

It Works

No treatment is 100% effective. But results from the laser treatment are extremely encouraging. Cure rates meet or exceed that of oral anti-fungals, especially when combined with other therapies or treatments (including improved hygiene, treating shoes with anti-fungal powders, etc.)

Is There Any Reason I Wouldn’t Want to Choose Laser Treatment?

From a clinical perspective, we’re confident that laser treatment is the best and most effective option for fungal nails, with none of the drawbacks of anti-fungals (or surgery). There is one main drawback, however, which is that laser treatment usually isn’t covered by insurance. You’re getting a much better treatment, but your out-of-pocket costs may be higher.

At Freeland Foot & Ankle Clinic, we’ll continue to provide oral and topical treatments in addition to the newer laser therapy as an alternative (or even both treatments in combination). We want to make sure you can receive treatment that is both effective and affordable, and that means providing options and weighing the pros and cons honestly and thoroughly.

Now is the time to finally get those fungal toenails under control. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at (989) 695-6788!

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