No need to worry here, it’s nothing you don’t want dead already. We’re talking toenail fungus here, and believe you me, if you’re one of my NYC podiatry patients you will want these little guys dead. I’m pleased to announce that we are able to safely, and effectively treat those pesky little guys, right in the office, using laser therapy. Sit back, Sulu, and let’s talk about nail fungus.
Anyone who has seen the TV commercials from a few years ago knows a little something about toenail fungus. You know, the ones with the little yellow monsters dancing underneath the toenails. It’s the commercial that always tends to show during dinnertime. Well those ads are mostly accurate. Toenail fungus lives in the skin underneath the toenails and as it digests the protein in the nails, changes the appearance of the nail, rendering them yellow, thick and brittle. Topically applied medicines are marginally effective since they don’t penetrate through the thick nail plate. Oral medicines are very effective, but require a three month course of medicine during which time liver function is monitored through a simple blood test. And in truth, the oral medications are very safe and effective. However, for those who are unable to take the oral antifungal medication due to a history of liver or kidney disease, or those who don’t want to take a pill for nail fungus, there is an alternative.
Laser therapy for nail fungus is relatively new, but is emerging as a safe and effective treatment for this most annoying condition. The lasers today are designed to penetrate the nail plate and kill the fungus in the skin under the nail. And does it work? The answer is: most of the time. As with the oral medications, nothing is 100% effective, and the most recent studies demonstrate a 60-80% cure rate, similar to the pill, although the cure rates in my own experience are higher. The laser is delivered in three painless treatments of 10 minutes, three weeks apart, and many patients will see some clearing after one treatment. At this time, the treatment is not covered by insurance, and it is unlikely that it will be covered in the future. However for many of my NYC podiatry patients, it is a small price to pay for fungus-free nails.
Of course there is no real harm in toenail fungus. It will not spread to other parts of the body, and will not cause other infections. And even the most effective treatments cannot prevent a future recurrence. But if you are sick of yellow, thick nails, or if your significant other makes you wear socks to bed, it might be time to consider laser therapy for those talons.
See you in the office.