Foot Infections Nail Fungus

The technical name for the fungus that people get on their feet is called onychomycosis, and essentially, it’s everywhere. People can grab fungal infections from the floor, from the carpet, their house – it’s everywhere.

It’s very difficult to treat because it is highly resistant. Historically we have treated fungus with topicals that are only eight percent effective, and then with Lamisil, oral medication, which can have an adverse effect on your liver, and is only 70 percent effective. Now, we have the laser, which is 80-87 percent effective. It’s great because it’s painless, it’s safe – you don’t have to worry about checking your liver enzymes before or after – and it’s effective. One treatment usually knocks it out.

The actual laser treatment itself is about 45 minutes. It involves debriding the nail, which is where we shave the nail down so it gets nice and thin, and then the treatment takes about 25, 30 minutes. The laser is an infrared Yag laser and it eradicates the fungus, virus, the bacteria at it’s source. The reason it’s so highly effective is because we are able to treat the nail matrix. The nail matrix is the immature nail or the root of the nail that is not visible. The nail starts of thin and as it grows out and matures it becomes hard and known as the actual nail plate. By killing the fungus at the root of the infection we are able to allow a healthy nail to grow out. The patients come back in 4-6 months after the laser treatment for a follow up appointment. Doctors take before and after pictures that allow the patient to see the difference. The patients love it because they can see it as clear as night and day. You won’t see resolution in four months because the nail takes anywhere from nine months to a year to grow out, but at four months, they’ll see what they call subungual clearing, which is a big stark difference between the fungal nail that’s growing out and the new nail which is free of fungus.

So why do some people get the fungus while others don’t? If your immune system is compromised – so let’s say, you’re elderly or diabetic – then you’re more susceptible to an infection, so you’re going to see a lot of nail fungus in that patient population. Some people, like you’ll see a husband and a wife who live in the same house – one has it; the other one doesn’t. It’s just that one is susceptible to it and the other one is not, and unfortunately, it’s bad luck.

It’s not contagious like if the person is right across from me, it’s going to jump from my toenails to the next person, but if you’re in a nail salon and they’re not auto-claving or sterilizing their instruments, there is a good chance you can get it. They’ve done numerous studies where they show that there are all kinds of things beyond fungus, like all kinds of viruses that they’ve been known to culture. If you go to the nail salon, you want to make sure you bring your own instruments and that they’re sterilized. You can get it almost anywhere, but if you’re taking an instrument that’s not cleaned and it has fungus on it and you’re introducing it under the nail, there’s a high chance you’re going to get it.

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