Nail Fungus (or onychomycosis) is one of the most common conditions treated by Podiatrists, it is estimated that more than 10 per cent of the population have this condition. Fungal infection of nails is most often visible on the toes. Some people are genetically prone to it. Others, including swimmers and other athletes, may be more likely to get it because they go barefoot in public areas or because their feet are often damp, Podiatrists say. In its mild forms, nail fungus is merely a cosmetic problem, but over time it can cause toenails to grow abnormally and become painful when walking.
You may have a fungal nail infection if you have one or more of these symptoms:
- Discoloured nails
- Yellow streaks under the nail
- Distorted or thickened nails
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged nails
- Nails separated from the underlying nail bed
- Build-up of debris (nail fragments, skin) under the nail
- White spots or streaks on the nail surface
As the fungal nail infection advances the nail can become thick, brittle and separate from the nail bed. With advancing deformity of the nail it is possible for a secondary bacterial infection to develop. If you suffer from Diabetes in particular, this would be an unwanted and serious complication.
Many people are unaware that they have a fungal nail problem and do not seek treatment until the infection has spread through the entire nail, or to other nails including finger nails.
Up until now, nail fungus has been very difficult to treat with people often frustrated at the lack of progress with traditional treatment options. Toenail laser treatment offers an alternative to oral medication, which carries a risk of liver damage, and a topical nail paint, which has poor efficacy.
Nail Fungus is heat sensitive and light sensitive. Laser treatment easily penetrates the nail and generates heat at the site of infection beneath the nail plate.
It’s important to note that nails have no living cells, even healthy looking nails. This is an important point as a dead cell has no potential to fight off an infection and heal. This means that once Laser is applied and fungal cells have been destroyed, visible signs of the nail infection will remain. As the healthy nail grows out however, the damaged/infected nail will slowly disappear. This will take several months so it’s important to remain patient.
The Laser treatment does not require any local anaesthesia and there is no recovery period. It’s a simple walk in, walk out procedure with no side effects and no visible harm to the nail or skin.
The number of treatments required is determined by the number of infected nails, severity of the fungal infection, your age and general health. The podiatrist will advise on the number of laser therapy appointments recommended for your treatment, but generally 1-3 treatments are required.