When is it time to finally treat that unpleasant growth in your toenails? If you’ve noticed unhealthy changes in your toes’ nail growth or have been experiencing any discomfort, then it’s already time to stop putting off treatment. Before the problem worsens to the point where invasive procedures become necessary, the best approach for treating unsightly foot conditions like toenail fungus is with preventive strategies. And thanks to the top-of-the-line treatment methods available today—like the Cutera Laser treatment offered exclusively to Southern Californians at the Bay Harbor Podiatry Group—giving your toenails the cosmetic overhaul they need and encouraging long-term healthy growth has never been easier.
You might first believe that surgical removal is the only option for toenail fungus since getting rid of the infection can become a challenging task. Onychomycosis, also known as nail fungus, is caused by common fungi like dermatophytes that are present everywhere in the atmosphere and are capable of quickly spreading infection. Everyone is susceptible to toenail fungus anytime they come into contact with the dermatophytes which thrive off the keratin inside nails, leading to discolored nails that can become thick, brittle, and prone to breakage. Not only can it cause embarrassment, toenail fungus can be painful and very uncomfortable for walking or even wearing shoes. At the first sign of physical change or discomfort, contact your doctor about treatment options so that you may have a chance of reversing the infection and eliminating the need for any serious procedures.
There are three forms of simple treatment that can all be effective, but each comes with its own results.
Firstly, you may be prescribed oral medications to combat the infection. By entering the bloodstream, oral medications can directly reach the infection and treat it at the source. Typically, the medication is taken for a number of weeks, and the infection can be eradicated altogether—restoring normal, healthy nail growth. However, medications may not be for everyone. Some patients may experience side effects like headaches, nausea, upset stomach, or skin irritation, and sometimes even liver damage or heart failure in patients with preexisting conditions. Some patients who are already taking other medications or want to avoid these unwanted side effects may prefer an alternative to the oral drugs.
Topical medication is another option that can be helpful since it is applied directly onto the infected nail, and there are typically no side effects. However, topical medication is not as powerful as oral drugs. Most of the time, topical medication is not capable of penetrating the thickness of an infected nail, and therefore cannot always reach the source of the infection. Topical medication is usually administered in combination with another treatment method.
Recently approved by the FDA, the cutting-edge technology of the Nd: YAG laser from Cutera has now made treatment easy, fast, safe, and extremely effective. Dr. Mittleman and staff at Bay Harbor Podiatry Group first used the PinPointe Laser on patients with onychomycosis which produced positive results, but in April 2011 have since upgraded to the newer Cutera Laser. “The Cutera Laser has proven successful in 70–80% of cases,” says Dr. Mittleman. The aiming beam of the laser can be adjusted for size, intensity, and amount of time that it is applied to each nail—so treatment can be customized to each patient’s needs. The light technology discourages the fungi’s ability to thrive, causing the infection to naturally reverse its growth. Patients notice changes even after just one treatment session with the laser, and there are virtually no side effects. Some patients will need a number of sessions spread out over time in order to completely eliminate the infection, but some patients will only need as few as two to three sessions total (sessions last 10–20 minutes each). The soft, pulsating light does not cause pain, but a warming sensation throughout the nail (and sometimes a hot pinch toward the end that quickly subsides). After the procedure, patients are able to immediately resume their usual activities without any interference or discomfort.
“Dr. Mittleman has been very nice, friendly, and thorough as he answers all my questions, and patiently!” says Bridget, a Cutera Laser patient. “I’ve been happy with the treatment. I like it because the other treatment for toenail fungus is an oral medication that has a lot of bad side effects. I just don’t want to risk those side effects—and besides the temporary burning sensation, there are no side effects with the laser.”
The intelligent laser technology targets only the affected area on the nail and not the surrounding areas, so treatment is extremely effective and safe. As the infected nail grows out over time, the new nail growth will appear healthy and clear. Nails grow slowly, so complete nail health will be achieved anywhere from 6–12 months following treatment.
Elimination of the infection is highly likely with the use of the laser technology. However, everyone is always prone to getting infected with toenail fungus again since the dermatophytes are always present in our surrounding environments. If you’re ready to start having beautiful, healthy nails again, talk to your doctor about your treatment options.
To make an appointment for the Cutera laser treatment available at Bay Harbor Podiatry Group, call (310) 540–1213.