Toenail Fungus Treatment | Laser Therapy and Phototherapy
- Do you have thick ugly toenails?
- Are your nails whitish-yellowish or brownish?
- Are your nails brittle (crumbly), thicker or have they changed shape?
I am a chiropodist and foot care specialist and I understand why toenail fungus can be a frustrating and embarrassing infection. Rest assured, when it comes to toenail fungal infections, I’ve seen it all and successfully treated them. My goal is to give your feet the TLC they deserve, so you do not have to feel embarrassed about wearing sandals and you can enjoy being barefoot in the sun.
First off, know that you’re not alone in your battle with toenail fungus, or onychomycosis as it’s medically referred to. In fact, the fungus is quite commonplace with more than two million Canadians suffering from this condition.
Quick In-office Test: We have a quick, cost effective in office test to help determine if you have nail fungus. There are several conditions which can cause changes in the nail that are not fungus, so this test can offer peace of mind to make sure we are treating the condition correctly.
You can be confident knowing that when you visit us, you’ll be receiving the best footcare from registered chiropodist who specializes in podiatry.
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.
If your nails are discoloured, thick, hard to cut, or crumbly, it is likely that you have a fungal nail infection called Onychomycosis. This is a very common nail disease and constitutes over half of all nail abnormalities. This condition may affect toenails or fingernails, but toenail infections are more common.
- Shared nail polishes, unsterile manicures and pedicures
- Communal showers, pools, hot tubs, and saunas
- Damaged or injured nails
- Excessive wearing of closed toe shoes
- Frequent contact with a person who has fungal nails
Treatment options for toenail fungus
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. Plus, some oral medication can cause other health issues, and topical treatments take patience to see results.
Quite often, the easiest, quickest and most effective solution is to destroy fungus 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.
Laser therapy treatment for toenail fungus
Laser treatment for toenail fungus has grown widely popular, 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.
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 treatment for toenail fungus
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 -5 sessions. 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 3 weeks apart such that the entire treatment spans just over 12 – 15 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 use 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.
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 is a concentrated infrared light, which is much more cost effective than its counterparts. This allows us to offer treatment at a reasonable price. This is much more affordable and accessible to our clients.
Each treatment is billed individually and can be stopped at any time if the client chooses to do so with no further obligation. The total of 4 photodynamic laser sessions including nail care is approximately $350. These treatments are typically covered under employee health benefits chiropody and podiatry services.
Can I cover up my toenails with nail polish during treatment?
Yes, 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 afterwards, while 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.
I am a registered chiropodist and foot care specialist and have been helping patients for over 20 years.
Are you uncertain about whether you should choose a chiropodist vs. podiatrist? Chiropodists and podiatrists provide the same care. There are 600 registered chiropodists in Ontario and only 60 podiatrists. The College of Chiropodists of Ontario stopped using the name podiatrist in Ontario in 1993, over 26 years ago — but the name is still used in other provinces in Canada, also USA and UK.
Chiropodists today must complete 7 years of post-secondary education. We do complete case management of foot problems, assessing and treating the entire foot and its complications.
Chiropodist Trina Scarrow, BSc, DCh treating a patient with foot pain — for proper foot functioning and overall well-being.
I provide full biomechanical exams and gait analysis — I will be able to help address your foot discomfort by foot care treatment, custom orthotics and orthopaedic shoes, surgery, medication, laser or physical therapy.
Chiropodists and podiatrists are the only regulated health professions who have the ability to prescribe and provide custom orthotics as defined in the Regulated Health Profession Act of Ontario.
I want to help get your feet functioning better so you can feel better.