Toenail Fungus Is Common, But Lasers Can Zap the Problem

If you’ve noticed your toenails gradually growing thick or yellow or crumbling at the tip, there’s a chance you have a fungal infection.

You’re not alone. Up to 33 million Americans suffer from toenail fungus, and in addition to obvious thickening, streaking or yellowing of the nail, it can also lead to ingrown nails or infections such as athlete’s foot.

The condition is common, and there are plenty of ways toenail fungus is spread. The risk of getting the infection can be higher if you have diabetes, wear artificial nails and swim and/or go barefoot in public swimming pools or showers at the gym – anything that leaves you with moist toes for an extended time.

There’s also a higher risk for those who have a nail injury or wear closed shoes – think tennis shoes or boots – for long periods of time.

There are several options for treating toenail fungus, and at Ankle and Foot Centers, our doctors are committed to helping patients through cost-effective, safe methods.

Although there are creams and pills that can help, some of these have side effects. The oral medication Lamisil, for instance, is inexpensive and can be effective, but some are hesitant to take it because in rare cases, it may cause liver damage.

The good news is that some podiatrists – including the doctors at Ankle and Foot Centers — offer lasers to treat toenail fungus. In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration approved lasers to fight fungus after being used in Europe for several years.

One of the benefits of a laser is that it cooks and kills damaging fungi while leaving healthy tissue alone.
At our locations in the West Loop, Roscoe Village, Ukrainian Village, Bartlett and Elmhurst, we use the Q-Clear laser. It’s the only FDA approved laser with an efficacy rate of up to 95 percent. There are other lasers out there, but they may not be FDA-approved, or have a lower efficacy rate.

We use the laser to treat all nails on the foot because fungus can easily spread toe to toe. The more spores you kill, the greater the success rate. It’s like going for a dental cleaning and only polishing some the teeth.

While one treatment is often effective, a few sessions with the laser may be needed. We also give patients a list of hygiene-related items to do afterward. For those who follow our directions and return for a yearly follow-up exam, odds are good of not being bothered by nail fungus again.

With the New Year underway, we encourage those struggling with nail fungus to take charge of their health and give our treatment a try. Flexible Spending Accounts can be used to cover treatment, or you take advantage of our Groupon. More information about laser treatment can be found at thinkfeet.com.

The doctors and staff at Ankle and Foot Centers wish everyone a happy 2015 and hope the year is filled with good health!

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