Toenail Fungus Laser Treatment: How it Works

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For many people, the idea of treating toenail fungus with topical creams or antifungal pills every single day is a chore.

There is a strong demand for a faster treatment with fewer side effects.

This is the gap filled by lasers.

Toenail fungus laser treatments are quickly becoming one of the most popular means of treating infections, even while the research in to their effectiveness remains unclear.

Are you considering a laser treatment?

Here are some things you need to know.

Toenail fungus laser treatments
Image by A K under creative commons — This kind of toenail Fungus can be targeted by laser treatments

How Laser Treatment Works

The idea behind laser treatment for a toenail infection is to disrupt the fungus and prevent it from spreading.

Much evidence suggests that fungi do not like heat, and this is the primary method of treatment with a laser.

It is thought that by heating up the nail sufficiently we may discourage fungal infections and eliminate the affected cells.

A second approach involves a fractional CO2 laser that burns small holes in the nail plate. Once through, topical antifungal drugs can effectively penetrate the source of the infection.

This is a hybrid approach that makes a lot of sense, but more research is required.

The evidence backing laser treatments has not yet been substantiated beyond some promising initial results.

Study on Toenail Fungus Laser Treatment Shows Over 90% Success Rate

One of the most promising studies was performed by Dr. Jeffrey Adler of Adler Footcare in 2013.

He claimed a 90% success rate in healing patients with toenail fungus, via laser treatment in two sessions, 30 days apart.

Adler Footcare of Greater New York recently conducted a clinical study involving more than 200 toes over a 14-month period, all of which tested positive for toenail fungus. After being treated using the LightPod Neo Nd: YAG laser by Aerolase the results showed over a 90% success rate.

Source: Press release

We hope there will be further studies in the coming years that can definitively answer whether laser treatment is a working cure for toenail fungus.

This wait hasn’t stopped the number of clinics introducing nail-based laser treatments from increasing rapidly.

No doubt, it is a lucrative business.

Which brings us to…

What Does Toenail Fungus Laser Treatment Cost?

It’s not cheap.

(But then neither is a topical prescription.)

If you go to a clinic, you can expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $1000 per laser treatment session.

The cost will vary depending on:

  • The number of toenails with fungus that need to be treated
  • How many times they require treatment
  • The clinic’s reputation

Laser treatment is designed for swifter results than you will typically see with topical drugs or antifungal pills.

It is not a daily procedure.

Most patients have toenail fungus laser treatment only once or twice.

This can work out cheaper than an antifungal prescription which requires daily usage over a sustained period of time (like Jublia).

What About DIY Laser Treatments?

There has been a huge influx of do-it-yourself toenail fungus laser treatments.

Many patients would rather have the technology in their own homes than go to an expensive clinic, even if the lasers are likely to be of a much higher standard.

Little research has been carried out in to the effectiveness of DIY laser treatments.

We would take any ‘miracle cure’ claims with a pinch of salt, although some users do report good results with this approach.

What Treatment is Right For Me?

The choice between antifungal pills, topical creams, professional laser treatment and laser home kits is a tough one.

If you are looking for treatments with science backing them, then the topical creams are your best option — even if their results haven’t always been that impressive.

Laser treatments have not received the same clinical scrutiny, but they do show promising results and the idea of ‘one-off’ treatment will appeal to many.

Have you tried laser treatment for a toenail infection?

Let us know how you got on and whether you recommend it.