March 02, 2015
Bring out the band! The days of hiding your feet because of unsightly toenail fungus are over. Over 25 million Americans struggle with toenail fungus, but now there is a new breakthrough treatment that is FDA cleared to end this condition. Before elaborating on this exciting treatment, it is important to have an overview of toenail fungus and an understanding of the causes, symptoms and conventional treatment options.
Condition Poses Physical and Emotional Problems
Toenail fungus, medically known as onychomycosis, is a problematic condition that can cause both physical and emotional effects. As toenail fungus grows and spreads deeper into the nail, it can cause the nail to swell and become discolored. Depending on the type of fungus, the color of the toenail can vary between brown, yellow or white. The fungus can cause the nail to thicken and to crumble, and in some cases, it will cause the nail to completely detach. Toenail fungus also can be painful, causing irritation and burning in the infected area; sometimes even wearing shoes becomes a painful ordeal for the person affected. Toenail fungus is often perceived as a social stigma because of the unsightly appearance of the nails, and in some case, the foul odors resulting from the infection. It can interfere with a person’s social life. Some people even avoid wearing toeless shoes or taking off their shoes and socks because they are embarrassed about the appearance. This condition not only causes embarrassment, it also diminishes the quality of life by inhibiting routine social activities.
Causes of Toenail Fungus
Fungus infection occurs when fungus debris becomes trapped under the nail, often as a result of an injury to the nail. It can be contracted in damp areas, such as public gyms, locker rooms, showers, pools and nail salons. Athletes and people who wear tight-fitting shoes or hosiery, which can irritate the nails and retain moisture around them, are at higher risk. Diabetics and people with other chronic conditions also have a higher risk of getting toenail fungus.
Conventional Treatment Options
The two most conventional treatment options include prescription topicals or oral drugs. The effectiveness of the prescription topicals is highly variable because the drug does not sufficiently penetrate the nail plate to reach the underlying infection. The prescription topical must be frequently applied to the nails, often daily, over a long period of time and is about 8 percent effective. Oral medications are around 50 percent effective and must be taken over a long period (6-8 weeks). Oral medications are associated with a number of adverse side effects such as gastrointestinal disorders, skin disorders, headaches and abnormal liver function. Some side effects need to be closely monitored with blood tests. They are not recommended for patients who have poor health or diabetes.
The GenesisPlus laser is a breakthrough treatment for toenail fungus that puts a patient’s safety and comfort first. This system is effective for clearing nails of both mild and severe forms of fungus. Laser energy is applied to the toenail plate and surrounding tissue. As the laser light gradually heats the fungus, it promotes the growth of healthy, clear nails. This multipurpose laser system has been FDA-cleared to treat a wide range of cosmetic conditions such as onychomycosis, warts, scars and spider veins.
GenesisPlus Laser AdvantagesThere are other laser treatment options available for toenail fungus, but the GenesisPlus offers several advantages. Treatment is quick, highly effective and relatively pain free. Treatments usually take 10-20 minutes and patients are able to return to regular activities immediately following the procedure (typically, two treatments are required during a four- to six-week period). This procedure requires no anesthetics and poses no risk of serious side effects.The GenesisPlus has design features that also offer significant advantages. The laser provides a larger spot size and reduces the risk of overlapping or missing infected areas. Combined with patented microsecond technology, it provides deeper penetration to effectively reach onychomycosis and deep vascular skin conditions. Another important feature offered by the GenesisPlus is the level of intelligence that the laser provides during treatment. The handpiece provides real-time temperature feedback and a visible triangulated aiming beam to ensure accuracy and consistent treatment distance.The new nail generally grows out within a few months with no signs of infection, although the growth rate may vary depending on the severity of the infection. The efficacy rate for the GenesisPlus laser is around 70 percent to 80 percent.GenesisPlus laser treatment procedureAfter the initial consultation with a patient, the physician determines if treatment is necessary and prepares a treatment plan. The procedure may be performed by the physician or trained technician. It is generally recommended that all of the nails be treated even if some of them have no visible sign of infection because fungus can be transmitted undetected. During treatment, multiple passes are made with the laser over each toe, occasionally pausing to ensure patients comfort. For a brief time following the procedure, it is recommended that patients periodically apply antifungal cream to prevent re-infection. Following treatment, the nails eventually grow out, appearing clearer and healthier than before.