The embarrassing moments at the swimming pool or beach are difficult to cope with but don’t be depressed or sad – there are effective fungal nail treatment methods!
In this article we will introduce you to four popular treatment methods for nail fungus. Please remember, it is highly recommended that you consult a doctor before opting for any of these treatments.
The 4 main types of fungal nail treatments
The following are the main treatment methods people opt for; each has its advantages and disadvantages.
1. Oral Medication
2. Nail Lacquer
3. Thermal Laser
4. Cold Laser
Let’s briefly explore them one by one.
Doctors usually prescribe oral medication for nail fungus treatment if you have the following conditions:
- A history of cellulitis
- You’re experiencing pain or discomfort from nail fungus infection
Though it should be mentioned that it is common for many doctors to prescribe oral medication even if these conditions do not exist.
Oral antifungal medications that are known to show the most effective treatments are: terbinafine (Lamisil) and itraconazole (Sporanox). Usually GP’s only give a 3 month prescription although many peoples experience demonstrates that a longer period of – say 6 months – would be better.
These medications help a new nail grow free of infection, slowly replacing the infected portion of your nail. The end result of treatment can only be seen once the nail grows back completely. It may take four months or longer to treat the nail fungus infection completely. You must also be careful not to continue to expose your nails to warm, moist conditions else the infection can return.
Doctors may not recommend oral medications for nail fungus treatment for people with liver disease or congestive heart failure or for those taking certain medications. These antifungal drugs may also cause side effects ranging from skin rashes to liver damage.
Caution: It is absolutely vital that you are consistent in taking your daily oral medication, else the treatment may be rendered ineffective and could potentially become dangerous.
Doctors will often prescribe an anti-fungal nail polish if you have a mild to moderate infection of nail fungus. You paint it on your infected nails and surrounding skin once a day. After seven days, you wipe the piled-on layers clean with alcohol and begin fresh applications. Many nail laquers are now applied weekly instead of daily. The nail lacquer has to be put on exactly as prescribed for the best chance of success. You may need six months of nail lacquer treatment for fingernails, and up to a year for toenails. To be followed according to doctor’s consultation and prescription of course.
Nail Lacquer as a nail fungus treatment is not considered as effective as oral drugs because the infected areas can be hard to reach (fungal spores are present in the nail bed which is the very difficult to reach tissue beneath the nail plate).
Caution: Many Nail lacqurers actually say on the box that they are only useful if the infection is in its early stages, however our experience is that many GP’s prescribe it anyway – not really taking the problem seriously and just seeing the problem as cosmetic.
Thermal Laser Treatment
For years lasers have been used safely on the foot for several nail infection conditions. In this treatment, the laser energy gently heats the nail bed. The photo-thermal effect changes cellular metabolism and at increased temperature, cell components are damaged and metabolism is altered. Lipids in cell membranes are changed in structure and their function of protecting and regulating the internal environment of the cell becomes further compromised resulting in fungal death and nail clearance.
The laser provides a comfortable, safe, controlled treatment by having little or NO THERMAL effect (heat) on the skin, nail and nail bed. In most cases, there is no pain or discomfort during the treatment besides a warm tingling sensation; however there may be discomfort if a long wave pulse laser is being used. Laser is an excellent choice for patients who do not want to risk taking oral medications and has no side effects.
Caution: If you are planning to undergo thermal treatment for your nail fungus make sure and ask the clinic if their thermal laser is FDA approved for onycomycosis (nail fungus) treatment. Some lasers which are FDA approved for nail fungus treatment are Pinpointe, Cutera Genesis and Fotona. (At Nail Fungus Clinic, our thermal lasers are FDA approved).
Cold Laser Treatment
Cold laser treatment, as opposed to the most common laser applications, is the use of low level lasers that work by promoting natural healing via the body’s own immune system. This means the nail fungus is actually killed. The other laser applications are opposite in the sense that they use the laser light to promote natural healing growth.
Cold laser treatment is a painless therapy and usually takes 10 – 12 minutes to treat each foot. It does not harm the surrounding tissues or the nail bed. There are also no reported side effects. Lunula manufactures a cold laser device that operates at two wavelengths: 405 and 635 nm. Neither of which generates heat – thus the name ‘cold laser’. Each wavelength is supposed to stimulate the immune system to kill the fungal spores in the nail bed thereby safely treating nail fungus. It is a push button device in which you place your feet for a 12 minute cycle.
Although the fungus is vaporised and killed within minutes, the results are not seen immediately as it can take several months for the infected nail to grow out and to be replaced by a new and healthy nail.
Caution: To the best of our knowledge cold laser devices do not have FDA approval for nail fungus treatment and are less proven than thermal lasers.
Finally, it must be said that treating nail fungus can sometimes be very difficult. Infections can also re-occur after treatment.
Have you ever had nail fungus? What method worked for you? Please tell us about your experiences below!
(Image Courtesy Niki Shyfeet)