Introducing the Integrative Laser Nail Fungal Treatment
Toenail fungus is a common infection that is often a frustrating condition to treat. Although rarely life threatening, those suffering from a chronic infection of subungual distal onychomycosis can experience deformity of the nail that can lead to orthopaedic issues of the foot. Toenail fungus was conventionally treated with only topical and oral anti-fungal medication with mixed results, however, thanks to the introduction of laser technology the treatment has been revolutionized.
What are Onychomycosis and Dermatophytosis?
Toenail fungus, or onychomycoses, and athlete’s foot, or dermatophytosis, are fungal infections caused by groups of organisms called dermatophytes and yeasts.
What is different between the two? Athlete’s foot is an infection of the skin and nail fungus is an infection of the nail itself. Typically, toe fungus is more difficult to treat than athletes foot. Both infections are easily spread through repetitive contact with other infected surfaces, making it common to have both types of infections. Repetitive trauma to the toes, genetics, re-exposure, reduced circulation to the feet or a compromised immune system can be some of the many causing factors.
Symptoms of Toe Fungus and Athletes Foot
Symptoms of athlete’s foot can be itchiness or stinging, cracked or peeling skin in the heels or webbing of the toes, and discoloration of the skin. Symptoms of toenail fungus start as subtle discoloration of the sides of the nail leading it to grow brittle edges. Advancement of the infection can lead to thickening of the nail. Since many patients with toenail fungus also have athlete’s foot it is common for your doctor to treat both.
What to expect during treatment
The initial consultation will involve taking an initial culture of toenail clippings to be sent for analysis and a medical history. For this reason, please do not clip toenails before an initial consultation as it is important that we collect clippings at this time to send out for analysis. Treatment sessions typically last between 45-60 minutes. If the nails have thickened, the practitioner will debride the nails. Debridement uses a medical podiatry drill and is relatively painless, although it is common to experience mild heat due to friction with this procedure. The second stage of treatment involves using a laser to destroy any spores that may be in the nail bed. Laser treatment involves the use of a diode on the nail bed – it is also relatively painless – however the patient may expect to feel slightly more heat on the skin.
How Many Treatment Sessions are Required?
An initial series of four mechanical debridement and/or laser nail fungus treatments will be performed either at two weeks or one-month intervals. Following these period of treatment, we will typically allow a 2-3 month break from treatment for nail growth. Please note that more severe fungal infections may warrant ongoing treatments, which will be prescribed by your doctor. Nails will not become instantly clear following treatment but instead will gradually improve over the following months. It can take up to 9-18 months to completely grow out a new set of healthy nails after successful laser nail treatment.
Inline with our holistic approach, we provide education included in the treatment and may recommend orthopaedic adjustments, foot care and other adjunctive protocols in order to tailor a specific treatment plan that is unique to you as an individual. For optimal results, it is highly important and necessary to continue to practice the advised self-care at home. This includes applying a topical anti-fungal prescription and using a footwear fumigation kit – a all of which will be explained by your doctor.
Learn more about Integrative’s Naturopathic Approach To Treating Nail Fungus.
Although there are no absolute contraindications to this treatment, please indicate to your doctor if you have diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, an immunocompromised condition, or are on blood thinners.Dr. Jam Caleda, N.D.
Aftercare following your treatment is vital to ensure patients maintain lasting results. Patients are advised to purchase an aftercare home kit from the Integrative dispensary and fill a topical anti-fungal prescription which your doctor will give you during your treatment. Since many patients have both athlete’s foot and toenail fungus it is important to treat each condition, therefore your doctor may prescribe over the counter or prescription-strength anti-fungal creams for that as well. It’s important to ensure aftercare is given top priority – failure to eradicate or eliminate athlete’s foot can make it nearly impossible to achieve a lasting cure for nail fungus.
1. To start, wash your feet with soap and water each morning and evening. Ensure your feet are dry by using a hair dryer before applying the prescribed topical anti-fungal cream twice daily to affected areas.
2. Fumigation of all footwear should be done on a flat surface, out of the reach of children. Use the provided fungal fumigation kit, which contains an air-tight 20-gallon plastic zipper bag, a single 4-gram chlorine dioxide tablet, and a fumigation cup. It may be necessary to perform this every 4-6 months.
3. As fungus spores that are capable of causing human skin infections may exist on the floor of your bathroom, tub, and shower, we recommend that you spray a bleach solution on dry flooring surfaces to kill fungal spores regularly.
4. When undergoing treatment, we ask that you keep something on your feet such as socks or slippers to avoid re-infection. Nail polish should be avoided during treatment as it serves as a nail sealant which inhibits permeability and complete drying of the nail.
5. If possible rotate footwear since it takes a full 24 hours to completely dry out a pair of shoes after being worn. Having a pair of shoes that you can alternate wearing on an every other day basis is very helpful.
6. If your feet sweat, bring an extra pair of socks with you during your day and switch them out as needed. Natural fibres are best such as cotton, wool, bamboo, or silk.
Fungus likes darkness, heat, and moisture. Wear open-toed shoes whenever possible. Sunlight and ocean saltwater can also be beneficial.
7. Wash socks inside out and bedding in the hottest water setting. Drying in high heat is also recommended. CAUTION: bleach may affect the colouring of clothing, and high heat may cause shrinking of materials.
If you experience worrisome signs or symptoms related to mechanical debridement or laser treatment of your nails, or any other concerns, we ask that you notify us immediately by calling our clinic at (604)-738-1012. A healthy nail is thin and pink. Successful nail treatment is directly affected by how well you adhere to your at-home care. Your daily efforts are cumulative and will reap benefits down the road.