Onychomycosis Laser Treatment

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nails.

What are the signs and symptoms of nail fungus?

If you notice any of the following signs of change in your nails your may have nail fungus:

  • Yellow or brown discoloration
  • White or yellow streaks on the side of the nail
  • Brittleness
  • Change in nail shape
  • Crumbling of the outside edges of the nail
  • Debris trapped under the nail
  • Loosening or lifting up of the nail
  • Loss of luster and shine
  • Thickening of the nail
  • Toes or fingers that are painful, red, or drain pus

The diagnosis of a nail fungal infection is confirmed by scraping or clipping some of the nail for analysis under a microscope at the lab or sending it for a culture which may take up to 3 weeks for the results. Problems which can mimic fungus infections include psoriasis and some systemic conditions therefore confirmation by the pathologist is important.

What causes fungal nail infections?

Fungal nail infections are usually seen in adults and are often associated with a fungal infection of the feet (athlete’s foot). Toenails are affected more often than fingernails.

Fungi and bacteria are a normal part of our environment. Certain factors contribute to development of a fungal infection of the nails. The offending fungi thrive in warm, moist environments and in people who experience excessive sweating.

Other contributing factors which increase susceptibility to nail fungi include:

  • Getting manicures and pedicures at salons that do not sterilize their equipment
  • Minor skin or nail injuries
  • Nail deformities or nail disease
  • Having moist skin for extended periods of time
  • Compromised immune system
  • Wearing occlusive footwear

What are the treatment options for nail fungus?

Over-the-counter creams and ointments alone usually do not help treat this condition. Often a prescription for antifungal medicine such as Lamisil, Sporanox or Nizoral is required. The medicine is taken by mouth for about 3 to 6 months for toenails; a shorter time for fingernails. Due to the nature of the medication lab tests are necessary to check for potential liver damage. Alcohol cannot be consumed while on this medication. The success rate is approximately 80%.

The Nd:Yag 1064 (Genesis) laser has been approved by the FDA in the US and the Health Canada for the treatment of nail fungus. Two treatments with the laser have proven to eradicate nail fungus in 70% of cases. More treatments may improve this efficacy. The nail feels warm during the treatment. There is no need for anesthesia. Normally, the laser eradicates the fungus so that new, non-infected nails will grow.

What complications can occur?

  • Recurrence of the fungal infection on the nails or in other parts of the body even after successful treatments. Even with successful treatment, it is common for the fungal infection to return.
  • No response to treatments – common in 30% of patients.
  • Liver damage with oral medication.
  • A burn or blister with laser treatments.
  • A skin infection.
  • Permanent damage to the nails as a result of the fungal infection.
  • Prevention is an important part of the long term success of treatments.
  • Good general health and hygiene help prevent fungal infections.
  • Do not share tools used for manicures and pedicures with friends or family members.
  • Seek a salon that uses medical sterilization (autoclave) techniques to clean their manicure and pedicure instruments.
  • Keep your skin clean and dry and practice good nail hygiene.
  • Wear protective footwear in public spaces such as swimming pools, spas, showers.
  • Wash and dry your hands thoroughly after contact with any fungal infection.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks that breathe.
  • Wear clean socks every day.

before & after photos

**Actual patients. Individual results may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have another question that wasn’t addressed here? Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have!