Fungal toenail treatment has come a long way in just a few decades.
The condition, which can cause unsightly yellowing, warping, thickening, and crumbling of toenails, has earned a reputation for difficulty. The fungi don’t like to give up without a fight, and for a long time even the best treatment options were inconsistent, inefficient, and sometimes even dangerous.
But no more. Fortunately, we’re getting better and better at eradicating these unsightly infections, and Associates in Podiatry is now offering what we believe is one of latest, safest, and most effective therapies currently on the market: The Lunala Laser.
If you want to find out right now why we’re so excited about this piece of technology, please feel free to skip ahead to the good part below!
For those who want a little more context, we’ll explain how we got to where we are today.
The Dark Ages: Antifungal Medications
Ordinarily, topical antifungal medications are the first line of defense against surface-level fungal infections. For example, athlete’s foot—which is caused by the exact same types of fungi as fungal nails—is usually pretty easy to get rid of using over-the-counter creams or sprays.
However, topical medications for toenail fungus (also known as onychomycosis, or mycotic nails) are almost completely ineffective, simply because the medication can’t get under the nail. Even if you thin your nails regularly and apply every day, results are spotty even after a year of treatment.
Oral antifungal pills have a much higher success rate than topicals, and they were the “standard” treatment for fungal nails for a long time. But they still have a relatively high failure rate, particularly for older adults and those with slow circulation. Plus, not everyone could take them safely. Oral antifungals can cause some nasty side effects in certain people, including liver damage.
A Big Step Forward: Laser Therapy
The first really massive improvement in treatment occurred when the first fungal nail lasers became available on the market.
Using light energy to fight fungal infections has some significant advantages. Unlike topical medications, the laser beams can actually get through the thickened toenail and reach the fungus underneath. The energy is absorbed by the fungi, which ultimately destroys them.
The new technology allowed treatment that was safer, faster, and more effective than ever before. But there was still room for improvement.
Most fungal lasers produce lasers with relatively long wavelengths (900 nm), which puts them in “class IV.” Without getting too far into the details, these types of lasers produce a heating effect and are capable of burning and damaging skin. Although side effects are minimal when used properly, they require very precise, careful control.
They are also less convenient to use for those with more severe infections or more infected toes. Most can only treat one or a couple of toes at a time, so a full set of 10 will require longer appointments.
The New State of the Art: Lunala Laser
Fortunately, development on treatments that are even better and safer than older generation lasers has continued. And we’re excited to bring one of the best of the best to our office.
The general premise of Lunala is the same as older laser therapies. The device emits light energy which bypasses the toenails and targets the fungi underneath. However, it offers many significant improvements over older laser technology:
- It’s non-thermal. Lunala is a Class 2 device, rather than a Class 4 device. It uses a pair of shorter-wavelength beams (405nm and 635nm). In simple terms, that means it will not generate any noticeable heating effect. It will not cause any discomfort or cause any collateral damage to your skin or tissue.
- You can treat all 5 toes on each foot at once. Most laser devices require a doctor or technician to operate a hand-held wand that can only treat one toe at a time. Lunala, however, has a step-in box design that treats an entire foot’s worth of nails at once. All you need is about 12 minutes per foot. Compared to about 5 minutes per toe for other devices, it’s a much faster and more convenient process for those with several fungal nails.
- It requires no supervision.Because the laser is so safe and can treat such a wide area at once, the procedure can be performed unattended. It couldn’t be simpler or easier.
We typically recommend a treatment course of 4 weekly sessions. The vast majority of patients should significant signs of clearing and improvement within three months of treatment.
If you’ve been thinking about getting your fungal toenails treated—or you tried other treatments in the past—there’s never been a better time. The Lunala system is available at our Roselle Park office; to schedule an appointment, please give us a call at (908) 687-5757.