Treatment of toenail fungus with laser
Nail fungus, or onychomycosis as it is scientifically known, afflicts almost one in 10 individuals. It typically affects the toe nails and is more prevalent among men. In more severe cases it can cause pain and affect quality of life. Conventional methods of fungal nail treatment like oral medication and over the counter anti-fungal creams and ointments tend to take a long time to deliver results and are not always effective.
In severe cases, the surgical removal of the infected nail is sometimes the only option. Laser treatment by The Ryder Skin Clinic in St Albans, Hertfordshire is quickly becoming an alternative to the conventional treatment methods as it is able to treat the problem at its root.
What causes the condition
The causes of nail fungal infection are usually environmental. The fungus that causes the infection thrives in damp areas like swimming pools and gyms, and it can even be found in carpets. Swimmers are particularly prone to this infection because of the extended amount of time they spend with damp feet and walking barefoot.
Other factors such as wearing damp shoes or having sweaty feet can also create the perfect conditions for an infection to thrive. Some people are genetically predisposed to the condition and it can be difficult to treat as repeat infections are common.
Symptoms of nail fungus
A fungal infection can cause the nail to become brittle and discoloured. The nail bed and skin around the area can also become inflamed in more serious cases. If the infection is mild, it tends to just be a cosmetic problem; however in more serious cases it can cause difficulty and pain when walking. Infected nails also tend to grow abnormally.
What laser treatment does
The laser treatment of nail fungus works by breaking down the fungal cells in the nail. During a treatment session, the intense light beam is directed at the affected nail and it vaporises the fungal cells almost immediately. The treatment is relatively painless and is free of side effects. Once the infectious cells are killed, a new healthy nail is able to grow out. As nails can take months to grow out, it will take some time before the healthy nail emerges to replace the diseased one.
Laser treatment vs. conventional treatment methods
Conventional treatment methods such as creams or oral medication have to be applied or taken for an extended period of time before they are able to deal with the fungus. In the case of oral medication, liver damage is a possible, though uncommon side effect. Nail trimming, which is encouraged among those who suffer from nail fungus, does not deal with the fungus at all. Surgical nail removal can be painful and inconvenient, especially in the regrowth stage. Laser treatment, on the other hand, deals with the root cause of the infection without having to damage or remove the nail.
The one downside to laser treatment is that it is relatively more expensive than traditional treatment methods. The side effects associated with laser treatment tend to be confined to instances where the laser has been used improperly. Therefore it is wise to go to a medically-trained professional.
A treatment session takes about half an hour to forty-five minutes for all ten toes and the number of sessions required depends on the severity of the condition.
To healthy, happy feet
Once the affected area has been treated, proper hygiene is a must. You should avoid damp shoes, change your socks daily and use an anti-fungal spray. You should also avoid going barefoot and make an effort to keep your feet clean and toenails trimmed. This will ensure that your feet stay healthy, happy and free of infection.
[Photo by mickeysucks]