Laser Treatment for Toenail Fungus in the US

What is Laser Treatment?

When we think about laser treatments, most of us think in terms of laser eye surgery. But, scientists and physicians are finding new methods of application of laser treatments constantly. They have been used in a variety of fields of medicine, from dermatology to dentistry.

A laser is a concentrated beam of light energy that has the ability to selectively destroy certain biological structures, causing them to vaporize. The structure to be destroyed can be selectively targeted and blasted. The applications are wide and varied, so it is little wonder laser treatment has found its way into the healing of toe nail fungus.

Laser Treatment History for Toe Nail Fungus

Since the 1980s, researchers have been looking for ways to use lasers to treat onychomycosis. The reason the search was on for laser treatment is because the only oral medical treatments for toe nail fungus were griseofulvin and ketoconazole - both needing a long period of time to work. The side effects from these drugs were potentially very serious, even if the drugs were administered in modest doses. Often, they didn't work at all.

Initially, the idea of using laser treatment was to create holes or channels in the nail into which topical treatments could be administered. The laser could open up a pathway in order for the medicine to get into the nail and destroy the fungus. This particular process wasn't too successful. However, later on it was discovered that focusing the laser beam directly on the fungus heated the fungus to the point of killing it without burning the tissue that was surrounding the infection.

The Doctors Love It, But Does the Government?

Dermatologists have embraced this type of treatment, although to date the FDA in the US has not approved any type of laser systems developed specifically for the treatment of nail fungus or onychomycosis. However, similar laser devices have been cleared for use in treating other diseases. Since there has not been clearance, there seems to be a question as to the efficacy of laser treatment for toe nail fungus.

There have been a couple of small trails that focused on laser treatment for onychomycosis and, so far, the results have been favorable. However, the real proof will come when the studies are done on a large number of test cases with more rigorous test protocols. Once this type of study has been completed and, if it is found satisfactory, the use of lasers to treat toe nail fungus will go mainstream.

At present, it is an expensive endeavor and it is not covered by health insurance. So, if a person wants to take laser treatment, the cost comes out of their own pocket. It is a safe procedure with few side effects and the risk is only monetary for the most part.