Toenail Fungus Treatment in Guelph & Milton
Laser Therapy and Phototherapy/ Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Chiropodist and Foot Specialist Trina Scarrow, BSc, DCh, has been treating toenail fungus for over 20 years. If your nails are discoloured, thick, hard to cut or crumbly, it is likely that you have toenail fungus.
Toenail fungus is a very common nail disease and causes over half of all nail abnormalities. Over 2 million Canadians have toenail fungus.
As a Chiropodist and Foot Specialist, I’ve seen it all when it comes to toenail fungus infections, and I am able to successfully treat it.
There are several conditions that can cause changes in the nail that are not fungus, so it is best to have a professional assessment to offer peace of mind to make sure we are treating the condition correctly.
Symptoms and Causes of Toenail Fungus
Signs of toenail fungus include thickened, brittle nails that may be discoloured, taking on a yellow or brownish hue. Nail injuries, ill-fitted shoes, walking barefoot in damp public places – such as pools and locker rooms – and illnesses that cause foot-related complications, like diabetes, can all contribute to the infection.
Other causes of toenail fungus include:
- Excessive wearing of closed toe shoes
- Damaged and injured nails
- Communal showers, pools, hot tubs and saunas
- Shared nail polishes, unsterile manicures and pedicures
- Frequent contact with a person who has fungal nails
Toenail Fungus Treatment
Toenail fungus thrives underneath the nail bed, making it relentless and extremely difficult to treat without medical attention.
Home remedies, such as tea tree oil, are ineffective. Oral medication can cause other health issues, and topical treatments can take a long time to see results.
Quite often, the easiest, quickest and most effective solution is to destroy toenail fungus is by using light technology with medication therapy. While the process zaps fungus, it preserves healthy tissue underneath the nail plate – encouraging recovery and nurturing the nail’s healthy growth.
As a registered Chiropodist, I can prescribe medication and perform light therapy for toenail fungus.
Laser Therapy Treatment for Toenail Fungus
Laser treatment for toenail fungus is a widely popular form of treatment, and has been shown to improve the colour of the nails. The use of the term laser, is commonly used for all types of light therapy.
In our clinic, we use a form of concentrated light therapy called Photodynamic therapy (PDT). It is a form of phototherapy involving light and a photosensitizing chemical substance, used in conjunction with molecular oxygen to elicit cell death (phototoxicity). PDT has proven the ability to kill microbial cells, including bacteria, fungi and viruses. It has many useful applications across medicine, from dermatology to oncology.
When the photosensitive agent is irradiated with a certain wavelength of light, it changes the energy structure of the photosensitive chemical and becomes very destructive to adjacent cells.
Risks of not treating toenail fungus include its migration to other parts of the body as well as skin cracks and openings that welcome infections. For diabetics with weakened immune systems, this could lead to amputation
What To Expect During Toenail Fungus Treatment
The photosensitive agent we use specific to toenail fungus is a pharmaceutical grade blue dye, methylene blue. The typical course of treatment involves a series of 4-10 sessions, depending on the severity of infection, patient nail regrowth rate and response to treatment. In each session we will apply a generous amount of the methylene blue, and apply the medical light to the affected nails for several minutes.
We will also often debride or reduce the thickness of the dead nails such that the dye has the best penetration possible. We complete each treatment 2-3 weeks apart such that the entire treatment spans just over 24 weeks.
During and after the PDT cycle, we also treat the nail with a topical antifungal medication applied at home daily. After the PDT laser treatments are complete, we typically see our patients every 4-6 weeks so that we may clean the dead nail as much as possible and expose the healthy regrowth.
This is an important step in making sure that the infection does not return. We also provide our clients with a complete home care regimen, so that treatments are even more effective and we see results sooner.
Photodynamic therapy has a wide variety of applications. Here at Custom Foot Clinic, we started by using the Genesis Health Light for photodynamic treatment of toenail fungus. There has been much published research on its effectiveness. In our office, we have seen very encouraging results. Our next step treatment has been to introduce a further refined photosensitive dye/ serum with a carefully designed specialized light source which specifically targets the optimal wavelength for photodynamic response. Clinical trials partnered with McMaster University have produced excellent results, and this treatment is now fully Health Canada approved for treatment of toenail fungus.
How Much Does Toenail Fungus Treatment Cost?
There are many different lasers on the market to treat toenail fungus. Some come with very high treatment prices, and others much more reasonable.
The light we use at Custom Foot Clinic is a concentrated infrared light, which is much more cost effective than its counterparts. This allows us to offer treatment at a more affordable price.
Each treatment is billed individually and can be stopped at any time if requested, with no further obligation.
We usually recommend 4 – 6 photodynamic laser sessions with nail care to start. These treatments are typically covered under employee health benefits chiropody and podiatry services. Contact us for more information.
During Treatment Can I Cover Up My Toenails With Nail Polish?
Usually no, but we have a medical grade nail polish by Dr.’s Remedy Enriched Nail Care available in our office that can be used while having light treatment and after treatment when continuing on with topical anti-fungal medication.
This nail product is permeable, and will allow penetration of topical medications beneath the colour. This polish is free of harsh chemicals, and contains moisturizers for the nail as well as anti-fungal agents which aid in the treatment of the fungal nails.
We kindly ask that the polish be removed for each laser treatment, but it can be applied in between. Drug store and pedicure nail polish does not allow permeability, and can make fungal infections beneath the nail even worse. For this reason, we discourage the use of drug store and pedicure nail polish if you have a fungal nail infection.
Trina Scarrow, BSc, DCh, is a Registered Chiropodist and Foot Specialist who has been helping patients for over 20 years.
Chiropodists and Podiatrists are the only regulated health professionals who specialize in treating conditions of the foot. In Ontario, there are 600 Registered Chiropodists and only 60 Podiatrists.
Chiropodists today must complete 7 years of post-secondary education before they get their professional designation. Chiropodists do complete case management of foot problems, including assessment, treatment and ongoing care.
Chiropodist Trina Scarrow, BSc, DCh
*Picture taken before COVID-19, now full safety protocols in place including air filtration systems
I provide a full assessment, biomechanical exams, and gait analysis. I will be able to help address your foot discomfort with a variety of techniques including foot care treatment, custom orthotics, orthopaedic shoes, medication, laser, or physical therapy.
I can help get your feet functioning better to help you feel better. Contact me today.