Written by Jessica Jones
Summertime is upon us once again (unless you live in Tampa, Florida, in which case it’s summer for 3 out of 4 seasons)! As most people, I am really looking forward to the beach, hiking, camping just going outside and frolicking with nature. About 8 months ago I noticed a yellowish tint to my normally pink nail bed. Not only that, but my toe nails were becoming more brittle. At first impression, I panicked- could I have some sort of deficiency? Did I contract some kind of disease? So, I went to my doctor to get it checked out and sure enough, I had Onychomycosis or AKA Toe Nail Fungus! Not only that but treatment options that were explained to me were either inadequate, potentially harmful, expensive and did not even guarantee results. Additionally, because nails grow very slowly, it was going to take a while to see results; essentially the nail bed has to form a healthy nail and grow out the funky stuff.
Over the Counter Topical medication – Initially, since my fungus was not that bad, I was told that I could try over the counter(OTC) anti-fungal medication and see if this resolved the problem. There are many brands out there of OTC and they are pretty much created equal. I diligently applied the polish type liquid over my nails and nail bed every day for 2 months. The results were minimal to none and being very frustrated with this I again deferred to my doctor for a stronger solution. This solution was clearly not working and I needed something stronger.
Oral Prescription Medication – When I returned for a follow up my doctor, she suggested that the next step was to prescribe an oral medication. She explained to me that with this type of treatment, while effective on some, it could have some significant side effects. The prescription medication can sometimes cause liver damage or skin rashes. I would have to have an initial blood test to ensure that my liver was in tip top shape and then follow up tests to make sure the liver was not damaged. As if that was not bad enough, I wasn’t going to trade a nail fungus for a skin rash. I quickly ruled this option out for me. Though it may be viable for some, it was just not an option I was willing to consider.
Laser Toenail Fungus Treatment – So, once again, I deferred to my trusty MD to give me another solution into curing this bad case of Toenail Fungus. This time she suggested I get laser treatment to treat it. Since she is a primary physician, this was something that she did not do at her office. So, left out on my own, I searched podiatrist and laser places alike, trying to find more information regarding this ominous condition. I settled on a medical spa with lots of experience in treatment of onychomycosis and fair pricing. A podiatrist office, the ultimate experts for anything with feet was a great option but ultimately, laser was not covered by insurance, and their “self-pay” option was beyond what my pocketbook could afford.
The Treatment – I was a little nervous going into the medical spa for this treatment, never having laser done anywhere. The technologist had me fill out a ton of medical forms and liability releases, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Once back in the room, my tech explained the layman’s version of what applying laser to fungus will do. She stated (this is going to sound crude but truthful) that we are basically heating the fungus until it dies. We were cooking the fungus! The machine used was a Candela Yag laser, which, if you Google around, is one of the biggest brand names in the laser industry, so the equipment was solid. Lastly, I asked about potential pain during the process. The tech gently warned me that it was going to be hot but not painful yet intense….whatever that meant. I guess I was going to find out. As long as it worked, I was willing to try it.
The actual treatment took less than 10 minutes. The laser was set to a specific configuration for laser fungus and each toe that was affected received 3 passes. The first pass was the longest, maybe 8-10 seconds. The second and third were even shorter as the nail bed was already hot. I didn’t hurt, but it was definitely intense and very hot. However, the pain did not stay with me. Just as soon as it was done, so was the pain. I was told I had to do it a minimum of 3 times, as fungus is very difficult to treat and given some very important after care and suggested some sterilization /disinfecting products to purchase for my home care.
I repeated this process 2 more times and each time you could see the healthy nail growing and the unhealthy nail growing out. Laser toenail fungus treatments worked for me and this summer I am proud to display my piggies out in the open with some cute flip flops. It does take some time, but all of the other options take time as well. In all treatment options, your toe nails have to grow out and nails do not grow very fast. Although not an alternative for everyone, I found this coarse of action to be the most effective both with results and costs!