Nail fungus (also known as onychomycosis) is an unsightly fungal infection that causes toenails to become thick and yellow. Estimates show that approximately 10 per cent of American adults have nail fungal infections. There is no certain cure for nail fungus, and a number of topical and pill treatment forms exist with varying efficacy. However, clinical trials have recently demonstrated that laser treatment may be a more effective option in curing nail fungus.
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Topical Fungal Treatments
There isn't any cure for nail fungus, nor are there any overwhelmingly effective treatment options. Topical treatments, in the form of a nail lacquer, must be used daily for forty-eight weeks--and the cure rate is less than 10 per cent. Regrowth of fungus is rapid and recurrent after stopping treatment; most topical treatments are also unable to permeate the nailbed.
Susceptibility to Nail Fungus
Nail fungus is very easy to catch and transmit. Onychomycosis can be found in any wet environment, including nail salons and locker rooms. It is communicable by sharing foot products with others infected and can inhabit communal areas (such as showers). Once the fungus infects under the nail, it becomes very difficult to treat.
Antifungal Oral Treatment
Antifungal pills have been developed for treatment of nail fungus, but carry the risk of liver damage and are effective less than 50 per cent of the time. In addition to liver toxicity, prolonged treatment can also carry the life-threatening danger of drug interaction. Finally, oral treatment options can result in fungal resistance--and decreasing efficacy of treatment against fungal infections.
Laser Treatment Options
Clinical trials have used infrared pulsed lasers to treat toenail fungus. The lasers were used to irradiate the toenails with bacterial and fungal infections. Though the clinical trial was relatively small (only 17 subjects), the treatment was tolerated by all participants: there were no serious side effects or adverse results. In the 90 days following treatment, 79 per cent saw dramatic improvement in the nailbeds treated.
Pulsed Laser Treatment
The company PathoLase is one of the lead developers of pulsed laser fungal treatment, and claims a treatment efficacy of 88 per cent (though clinical trials have shown lower efficacy: 79 per cent). Pulsed laser treatment usually takes less than an hour, with healthy nail growth typically occurring in nine to 12 months. Treatment cost is usually around £780 and usually isn't covered by insurance.
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