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Should You Try Laser Treatments for Toenail Fungus?

By HERWriter
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thinking about laser treament for your toenail fungus? Bill Swiger/PhotoSpin

Toenail fungus is a pretty dreaded condition that is unsightly and takes a long time to go away. Approximately 12 percent of Americans get nail fungus, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. (1)

Onychomycosis is the medical name for nail fungus. It causes the nails to become thickened, flakey and discolored.

There are a variety of over-the-counter or alternative therapies intended to rid one of nail fungus but in severe cases oral medications may be used.

The problem with oral medications is that they increase the risk of liver or heart problems as well as potentially causing various other side effects including GI problems, hair loss or muscle weakness. (4)

How lasers work to reduce nail fungus is not entirely understood. It is believed by some that the laser actually kills the fungus while others think the laser simply inhibits fungal growth, allowing the body’s natural immune system to fight the infection.

According to the Washington Post, PinPointe USA Inc. was the first to received FDA authorization in October 2010. The FDA cleared a second company, GenesisPlus, in April 2011. A few more companies have also received FDA approval for their laser devices.

Lasers had been used “off label” for the treatment of toenail fungus for years under the umbrella of treatment use for other dermatology conditions.

One of the biggest deterrents in receiving laser treatments for toenail fungus is the cost. The Wall Street Journal reports that treatment courses ranges in price from $750 to $1500 and is not likely to be covered by insurance. Depending on the severity of the toenail fungus one to four treatments are needed and take 30 to 45 minutes.

Few scientific studies indicate that there is solid evidence of its effectiveness. Normir published a small short-term study of 34 patients who had 26 eligible toes treated in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medicine Association, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The study took final measurements six months after laser treatment and found 65 percent showed three millimeters or more of clear new nail growth and 26 percent had at least four millimeters. (5)

Despite the expense, reason in favor of the use of laser treatment is that they do not have the health risks of oral medications. Some people report feeling a heated burning sensation during their use but there is no continued discomfort when the treatment is finished.

Regardless of whether you choose oral therapy or laser nail therapy, it may take up to a year for your nails to clear entirely. Currently with the high cost of laser treatment and no promise of a better or quicker result, staying with older therapies may be the preferred route if one can tolerate the possible medication side effects.

Additionally, nail fungus can easily reoccur unless strict preventive measures are taken. Successful laser treatment will not prevent one from having toenail fungus again.


1. Fungus Got Your Toes? Zap It. The Wall Street Journal. Web. 20, Nov. 2012.

2. Which toenail fungus treatments actually work? Nail Fungus Treatment Review. Web. 20, Nov. 2012.

3. Toenail Fungus Laser Treatment - A Comprehensive Guide. Toenail Fungus Treatments Your Guide to Treating Nail Fungus. Web. 20, Nov. 2012.

4. Prescription Medication for Toenail Fungus- A Comprehensive Guide. Toenail Fungus Treatments Your Guide to Treating Nail Fungus. Web. 20, Nov. 2012.

5. Landsman AS et al. Treatment of mild, moderate, and severe onychomycosis using 870- and 930-nm light exposure. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2010 May-Jun;100(3):166-77. Abstract:

Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at

Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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