New laser treatment helps battle against toenail fungus

A new laser treatment aims to zap away ugly foot problems, hear how in Wednesday’s Medical Moment.

You can get it from the floor, the carpet, your house, your sneakers even a bad pedicure. About 10 percent of American adults or 23 million people battle toenail fungus.

Right now people spend more than $1.2 billion a year on pills and creams, but doctors say they're successful only half the time.

Now, they're testing a new treatment that aims to zap the infection away.

It's one of the secrets of their happy 34-year marriage, Delia and Manuel Cisneros love to dance. For many years, they were both afraid to show off their foot work.

"They looked kind of ugly,” Delia said.

"I would do this, do that, all sorts of remedies, but nothing really ever
Worked," Manuel said.

Podiatrist Dr. Gabriel Maislos says Chronic Toenail Fungal infections have been tough to treat.

"Historically, we had topicals that were 8 percent effective. Then you had the pill, which was Lamisil, but as you know, it can have an adverse affect on your liver and it's only 70 percent effective. Now we have the laser, which is 87 percent effective," Dr. Maislos said.

The doctor follows a grid-like pattern, passing an infrared laser over the toenail to kill the pathogens causing the infection, leaving the nail and surrounding tissue intact.

"We're able to kill the fungus at the source,” Dr, Maislos said.

In a clinical trial testing one brand of laser, the infection was eliminated in 50 percent of toenails tested after four treatments.

Six months later 76 percent of patients had clear nail growth.

"I kid you not, in about a week, week-and-a-half, I saw the difference," Manuel said.

The Cisneros saw results quickly, but doctors say it usually takes about four months to see a difference as the nails grow out.

The treatment costs about $1,000. Delia says it was worth it.

"I'm just gonna go shop, shop, shop, shop, for shoes," Delia said.

A couple hoping to kick their toe fungus problem for good.

The laser is not FDA approved for toenails, but the device was cleared for dentists to use, so some doctors are using it off-label.

Another brand of laser is still in clinical trials.

Nail fungus can lead to serious infections throughout the body among people with diabetes and immune disorders.


BACKGROUND: Toenail fungus is an infection that causes the toenails to become thick and yellow, a condition that affects about 10 percent of American adults. It can be caused by several factors including an abnormal PH level of the skin, trauma to the nail or poor foot hygiene.

Toenail fungus is caused by dermatophytes, which are three types of fungus that are common causes of skin disease. These types of fungi are typically attracted to dark, damp areas such as under and around the toenail.

CURRENT TREATMENTS: Fungal infection of the toenails is difficult to treat because the fungus is embedded deep under the nail. Antifungal pills and prescription lacquer are the most common types of treatment used for toenail fungus. However, the pills are only successful in treating the fungus about half the time and the prescription lacquer, after used for 48 weeks, only, cures about 10 percent of cases (Source: New York Times).

NEW LASER TREATMENT: Laser treatments that have previously been used for cataract, dental and hair removal treatment are now being used to treat toenail fungus. Nomir Medical Technologies in Waltham, Mass., has developed the Noveon laser to treat antibiotic-resistant staph infections and toenail fungus, and PathoLase Inc. markets the PinPointe FootLaser system, which is said by PathoLase to be 88 percent effective in treating toenail fungus. This type of treatment is not covered by insurance and costs about $1,000. Laser treatment for toenail fungus is an in-office procedure that takes about half an hour. According to doctors, there is no recovery period or down time following the treatment. The treatment uses two different wavelength beams of near-infrared light to penetrate the toenail and kill the fungi. There is little to no pain associated with the laser treatments.

Office of Dr. Gabriel Maislos
(713) 541-3199

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