There are six options for treating fungal nail infections:
1. DO NOTHING
Fungal nail infection if left untreated can be managed by podiatrists who can professionally cut and file the nails using specialist equipment – for example, electric nail files to reduce any thickness. Extra care must be taken to avoid spreading the infection to any healthy nails. Any secondary athlete’s foot needs to be managed, too.
2. TOPICAL TREATMENTS
A variety of topical medicines are available on prescription, from either over the counter at the pharmacist or visit our online shop for a range of products. If you would like further advice please of course contact us. Generally these are indicated for mild infections affecting the tips of the nail and ideally limited to one or two nails. Common examples are Penlac, Loceryl, Curanail, Trocyl, or ClearZal.
Some common home remedies include Vicks VapoRub, Tea Tree Oil and Listerine Mouthwash.
3. ORAL MEDICATION
Terbinafine (Lamasil) and Itraconazole (Sporanox) are the two common tablets used in treating fungal nail infection. They are taken for three to six months. Average effectiveness is in the region of 60 percent. There are reported side effects from taste disturbance, rash, migraine and liver damage. This medication must be prescribed by a doctor and some will check liver function via a blood test prior to commencing. Some NHS Trusts prohibit their doctors prescribing the medication and others would only prescribe it for more severe cases.
4. SURGICAL REMOVAL
The nails can be removed surgically. This is a minor procedure which can be performed by podiatrists and is useful if, for example, a large nail is traumatically damaged and grows upwards. Fungal infection would normally remain in the nail bed, so the fungus would usually return unless the entire nail was killed permanently. The nail should not grow back and the nail bed will heal and turn into normal skin.
5. THERMAL LASER TREATMENT
As technology has advanced The London Nail Laser Clinic has moved away from thermal lasers to the Cold Laser which is more effective and far more comfortable. An additional advantage is that Cold Lasers regenerate tissue which thermal lasers do not.
6. LUNULA 'COLD' LASER
The latest advance in Laser Nail Treatment is the use of cold lasers or the Lunula Laser. This uses two diodes (lights) at 635nm and 405nm which are both passed over the foot and nail to stimulate nail blood supply and immune response and also react with fungal cells interfering with the oxygen in the cell wall. Since using the Lunula Laser from June 2012 The London Nail Laser Clinic found a 97% improvement rate in infected nails.
WHY USE A LASER?
Medicine has benefited significantly from the use of lasers. Specifically within dermatology, advances in laser technology have allowed the development of lasers to target fungal cells. Over the past 5 years the advances have been significant initially using heat delivered with the PinPointe FootLaser and its infra-red 1064nm beam. Other lasers have utilised this modality based on applying heat to the nail allowing it to pass through and vaporise the fungus with the energy.
In 2012 further advances were made with the Lunula Low Level Laser, informally described as a ‘cold’ laser since it does not rely on heat. Different wavelengths of light exert an effect on different cells. The two wavelengths employed stimulate the immune reaction to fungus in the nail and also kill the fungus by reacting with its cell wall.
Fungus is contained within the nail complex and the lasers are able to target these fungal cells directly without the risks involved when oral medication is taken or the long period of time required when applying topical medicines that aren’t able to penetrate to the nail bed.
Both lasers have no detrimental effect on healthy skin or nail and require no anaesthetic. They are not surgical and there is no recovery period or effect on activity after treatment.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A TREATMENT
The treatment process is started with a consultation where the presence of nail fungus will be established. The symptoms, signs and progression are discussed, together with any treatment options. We would then be able to discuss the expectations of treatment and likely results, along with being able to answer any of your questions. The nails can be thinned and tidied with a water based file to remove any thickening and fungal debris if required. Photographs are taken for comparative purposes and monitoring of your results.
The number and length of sessions will be determined during the consultation and will depend on the amount of damage caused by the fungus, the duration of the infection and the amount of fungus present.
During the Lunula ‘Cold’ Laser treatment your foot (or hand) is placed in the laser cavity and the machine switched on. The two long laser beams rotate over each foot. You will barely feel any sensation since this laser uses no heat to attack the fungus.
Antifungal cream or spray is applied to the foot. Preventative advice is given and you receive a footcare pack to take away. Since fungal nail infection is caused by contact with fungi, if care is not taken to improve levels of hygiene and reduce fungi living on the skin naturally, it can recur.
We have a variety of products available to purchase to assist in maintaining the long-term health of your feet. These include antifungal shoe spray, the SteriShoe ultraviolet shoe steriliser, athlete’s foot creams and sprays, tea tree foot wash and cream and antifungal aromatherapy oils. We will provide as part of the treatment cost appropriate medicines to start this process. Our online store allows patients and visitors alike to buy these items.
We advise changing into a fresh pair of socks following treatment.