Onychomycosis. Tinea Unguium. Nail fungus. No one wants it, but about 12% of the US population has it. That’s about 31 million people.
How do you know if you have an infection? You may have seen the two most common kinds before. One looks like white dots or patches on the top surface of the nail. Another turns the nail yellowish and it makes it thicker and brittle. Either kind can make your toes hurt if it penetrates deep enough.
How to cure toenail fungus?
There are three ways to treat nail fungus: medication, surgery, or a laser.
- Medications come in the form of pills, creams, and special nail polish. Unfortunately, the oral anti-fungal medications need to be taken for 6 to 12 weeks. They have severe side effects for some people, from skin rashes to liver damage.
- The creams and nail polish can take from a few months up to a year to cure nail fungus. They have to be applied regularly without fail. The patient often has to have their nails debrided, or sanded down, before treatments.
- Surgery can cure nail fungus in severe situations. A doctor cuts out all the affected toenails. It may take a year for them to grow back completely, and the patient usually has medication to take or apply to their toes while they heal.
- Lasers are still being studied as an effective cure for nail fungus. Sometimes the laser treatments are combined with antifungal nail cream. So far, results have been positive for most patients.
Why use lasers?
The nail fungus is a living organism and is sensitive to heat. Laser treatments can attack the fungus in two ways.
One kind of laser heats up the nail and kill the fungus. The other kind is a carbon dioxide laser that makes microscopic holes in the nail to let antifungal medications penetrate better.
How effective are lasers against toenail fungus?
Medical-grade lasers like those in a doctor’s office have success rates as high as 71.4% after only a single session. The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t cleared many medical lasers marketed as devices that cure toenail fungus, so it’s hard to find anything for sale to the public.
Doctor’s office or treatment at home?
So how can you get a laser treatment for nail fungus? It’s a personal decision that you as the patient needs to make. We certainly can’t offer medical advice here.
But we also know that many insurance plans don’t cover expensive treatments for nail fungus. A single visit to a dermatologist for laser treatment of fungus could cost up to $1000 without insurance. This leaves a lot of people trying out home remedies in an effort to save money and avoid the scary side effects of prescription drugs.
To fill this gap, some companies are selling devices that make it possible to do laser treatments at home. Let’s take a look at some of these below.
Our top choice for home laser treatment of toenail fungus
|Nail Fungus Treatment Device by Curex
|HNC Fungus Treatment Laser Device
|Avance Beauty Salon & Professional Fungus Treatment Machine
Cure Ex Nail Fungus Treatment Laser Device
The Cure Ex Nail Fungus Treatment Laser Device combines the power of two wavelengths of light to kill fungus cells and stimulate healing. The laser operates at 906nm (nanometers) and is accompanied by a blue light at 470nm. The laser type is 1M, safe for home use, and its intensity is 22W (watts), while the blue light comes from LEDs embedded in the device. (Blue light also treats acne by killing the bacteria that causes it.)
One user of the Cure Ex provided a detailed documentation of the healing process over 7 months. This person discovered that by using the device as recommended, along with soaking their nails and treating them weekly with an antifungal spray, the affected toes cleared up. Some nails fell off and were replaced by healthy ones. Others cleared up and gradually returned to a normal color.
Cure Ex tells customers to use the device daily for at least three to four months to get results, although it’s possible to see progress at just 4 weeks. It only takes 7 minutes per day per toe, and shuts off automatically when it’s done. It’s compact and rechargeable, so you can do a treatment anywhere. It’s painless, with some users noticing a warm sensation only. You can use the device up to three times a day and combine it with other antifungal medications.
They offer a 180-day money-back guarantee and a 2-year warranty on the Cure Ex. It’s in the registration process with the FDA and has already received an approval from the Ministry of Health in the European Union.
But the Cure Ex isn’t the only small device made for home treatments. Check out the similar product below.
HNC Fungus Treatment Laser Device Revolutionary Home Use Nail-fungus Remover + Free Ebook
The HNC Fungus Treatment Laser Device also combines 905nm laser light with 470nm blue light to destroy fungus and heal nails. Its manufacturer is Wuhan HNC Technology of China. While the device’s external design is a little different, the internal laser is practically the same, or the same, as the one in the Cure Ex above.
Unfortunately, the reviews from users of this particular device are sparse and not very informative. Like the Cure Ex, the HNC should be used daily for best results, and it has an automatic shutoff after 7 minutes. They estimate three to six months to complete treatment. Should there be a problem with the device, HNC offers a 12-month warranty.
Besides these two small lasers for home use, you can also buy a machine primarily seen in beauty salons. Let’s take a look at it below.
Salon and Professional Toe and Finger Nail Fungus Treatment Machine by Avance Beauty
Avance Beauty offers the DM9051aDX Salon and Professional Toe and Finger Nail Fungus Treatment Machine. It is the same as, or similar to their DM9050 Professional Laser Epilation Pen. In other words, this is a machine that can remove body hair. It uses a wavelength of 808nm to penetrate into skin and burn away fungus without damaging skin.
This is a type of device that would normally require some training to use. It’s not for the average home user. It should be used while wearing protective eyewear. Normally, you would apply a mild anesthetic before and a cooling gel after treatment. It’s also a lot more expensive than the simpler devices described above.
On the upside, it does serve two purposes. It can help clear up nail fungus and get rid of unwanted body hair. Avance Beauty offers a 12-month warranty.
Other treatments to use together with laser sessions
While you’re treating nail fungus with a laser, you can also use creams, sprays, and special nail polish to help the process go faster. One of the most popular topical treatments is this one:
Fungus Stop Anti-Fungal Nail Treatment by Zane Hellas
This powerful little liquid contains Carvacrol, derived from Oregano Oil. It’s an all-natural, therapeutic-grade solution. Brush it onto and under the affected nails once a day for 4 weeks. Don’t apply it to injured skin and don’t get it in your eyes. If you don’t see any results after 6 weeks, stop using it.
Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak from Purely Northwest
Some people who have beaten back nail fungus swear by Tea Tree Oil and Epsom salt. Here is a relaxing foot soak to soften up those brittle nails and help kill the fungus. It helps reduce foot odor, too. At the very least, it may treat Athlete’s Foot and stop the itching.
Zeasorb Antifungal Treatment Powder
While Zeasorb Powder is marketed to fight Athlete’s Foot, that condition is also caused by a fungus. This powder based on Miconazole Nitrate will help keep fungus at bay and keep foot perspiration to a minimum.
Prevent a reoccurrence of nail fungus
When you’re ready to start treating nail fungus, there are other important things to do besides treatments with medicines or a laser. You have to battle the fungus everywhere to get the best results.
- Toss out old shoes that you can’t wash. For example, you may be able to properly clean and disinfect a pair of flip flops, but not those leather shoes. Take this as an opportunity to buy new shoes that you can start wearing once you begin treatments. Make sure they are comfortable with plenty of wiggle room for your toes. The more ventilation your feet get, the better.
- Trim those nails—but don’t forget to sanitize the clippers with alcohol before and after using them.
- Swap shoes each day so each pair has a chance to dry out completely before you wear them again.
- Don’t go barefoot in public pools or gyms. Wear flip-flops or water shoes to protect yourself from re-infection. Check out these comfortable Havaianas that come in an assortment of colors.
- Disinfect your shoes, your bathtub, and wear clean, dry socks. Wash your feet daily, or more often if you perspire a lot, and dry them very well, especially between the toes.
- Sprinkle antifungal powder in your shoes. You may also put this on your feet before you dress in socks.
- Stick to the treatment plan. Do treatments every day without fail for as long as it takes. Generally, you should see some improvement in two to four weeks, but complete healing may take months.
The filthy details about nail fungus
If you get a little nauseated by gross things, you may want to skip this part. We’re going to tell you more than you ever thought you wanted to know about nail fungus.
Health conditions that make a person more likely to get nail fungus
Certain health concerns make a person more susceptible to infections like nail fungus. If you have diabetes, psoriasis, problems with blood circulation, or a weakened immune system, you may pick up an infection easier than other people.
Places where you can most easily catch fungus infections
Nail salons, gyms, pools, and even hotel rooms can all teem with fungus. The fungus is microscopic so you can’t see if a surface has been properly disinfected. Protect yourself by wearing flip-flops at the pool and in public showers. If you’re trying out a new nail salon, see if they disinfect their equipment after each use. Don’t feel bad about wearing flip-flops in a hotel tub either if you’re concerned about its cleanliness.
You can also pick up an infection at home if a family member suffers from one. Encourage them to get treated and be sure to sanitize the tub and nail clippers before you use them.
What is nail fungus, really?
Nail fungus may be caused by three kinds of tiny organisms: dermatophytes, Candida, and mold. Yes, if you have a nail fungus infection, you may actually be molding. Eeew.
In temperate climates like most of the United States, dermatophytes cause the infection. Candida and mold cause it in people who live in tropical, humid places.
You may recognize the name Candida. It’s the main cause of yeast infections in women. So yes, it’s a fungus, too.
Could what I have be something other than nail fungus?
Yes, if your nails look infected and feel brittle, it might not be a fungal infection. There are some other things that can cause similar effects. When in doubt, go see a medical professional. A doctor can take a sample and test it to be sure.
Scarily enough, it could be melanoma causing a nail bed tumor. Psoriasis can cause your nails to look infected, as can yellow nail syndrome. Yellow nail syndrome is usually linked to lung and lymph system problems.
Tell me again why lasers are a good treatment for nail fungus?
The theory works like this: nail fungus starts to die off at temperatures from 40 to 60 degrees Celsius, or 104 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. A laser heats up the nail and the skin under it to kill off the fungus without burning your tissue.
Typically, skin doesn’t burn until it comes in contact with 118 degrees F, although anything over 111 degrees F feels like it will burn. The higher the temperature, the faster the burn happens. Users who had success with laser treatments on their nails report a warm sensation during sessions.
What happens if I don’t treat the nail fungus?
If you don’t treat the nail fungus, it probably won’t go away on its own. It may spread to your other toes and even to other people. It can start making your toes hurt as it destroys your nails. In some cases, diabetics have ended up with cellulitis infections from having a toenail fungus infecting their foot. There have also been rare cases of osteomyelitis, or bone infection, stemming from a toenail fungus infection. Sounds like it’s a good idea to just take care of the problem, right?
While you wait for your new stuff to arrive
Check out our other reviews on the best in skin care and beauty. See how to keep your bathroom dry and inhospitable to fungus with a dehumidifier. Start a new hobby in the winter months when you’re stuck indoors.