Fungal nail infections affect between 3-12% of the population. A lot of people will suffer in silence and just ignore it, commonly because it’s not widely known that it can be treated, however there are in fact many treatments available! This week’s blog is about getting under the skin of this infection and giving treatment options for healthy, strong, fungal free nails!
What causes fungal nail infection?
You may be surprised to hear that it’s a fungal infection in the nail…you’re shocked right? Most commonly fungus stemming from athlete’s foot which is why toenails are generally more affected than finger nails. They are more commonly seen in the mature age group but other things such as diabetes and weakened immune systems can also play a part. Less commonly they can be linked to yeast infections.
Will it go away on its own?
It is incredibly unlikely that it will disappear on its own, left untreated it could even result in the loss of the nail.
How do you know that you’ve got fungal nail infection?
It’s normally characterised by a yellowy discolouring and the nail becoming very hard and even starting to lift away from the nail bed. Nails will also become brittle and start to break. Clinical diagnosis is always recommended.
What should be the first course of action?
The British Skin Foundation recommend trying topical or oral treatment initially, they suggest trying Terbinafine as the best initial approach with positive results seen in around 50% of cases. You should be able to get this prescribed by your doctor or a podiatrist. Should this not work, you may be recommended other medications, however a lot of clients choose to try laser treatment failing initial treatments.
How does laser treatment work?
I’m going to take a segment out of the Consulting Room’s website as I only have extensive knowledge of one form of laser treatment (ND:YAG). This article on laser treatment for fungal nails explains this and new technologies in greater detail…
“There are two types of laser treatment that are effective in treating fungal nail infections. Both would require any excessive thickening of the nail to be filed away before treatment began, and in both cases the uninfected nail will grow from the base of the nail to replace the infected portion which would be clipped away as usual from the top. Before and after photographs allow progress to be monitored. Some clinics also take clippings for microscope analysis to monitor the fungal infection.
The first type of laser treatments uses laser light typically emitted from Nd:YAG lasers with a wavelength of 1064nm of infra-red light. Examples of such brands of laser include PinPointe from Cynosure and ClearChoice from Alma Lasers.
The laser light is applied across the nail in short pulses by a clinician using the handpiece of the laser device. All the affected nails would be treated individually but it is relatively quick, taking about ten minutes to do one hand or foot. The treatment would then be repeated at four week intervals until the infection was gone. There is a mild sensation of discomfort with this treatment but it seems to vary a lot between individuals, their pain threshold and the state of their infection.
More recently there are now “cold” laser treatments available such as the Lunula treatment which is often found to be more comfortable for the client. The Lunula uses much lower wavelengths of light – 405nm and 635nm – which means that it is not relying on heat to kill the infection; hence the term cold laser. The whole foot or hand can be treated by placing it into a device that rotates the laser beams over the surface. It uses two wavelengths of light simultaneously; one to treat the fungus, and another to stimulate the blood supply to boost the immune response in that area. The cycle takes about twelve minutes per hand or foot and as the energy is lower there is minimum discomfort to the client.”
To read more about this condition and find a clinic offering it near you, click here to be taken to the Consulting Room link.
In summary, it’s better to not ignore the problem and cover it up as it may lead to discomfort and the eventual degradation of your toenail!
If you have any questions or would like any suggestions on clinics in your area feel free to contact me.
Thank you for reading