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Is there an effective toenail fungus cure in San Francisco?

What you need to know about toenail fungal infections

Dr. Alexander Reyzelman, DPM, FACFAS

As summer approaches each year, the time comes to pull out those flip-flops and sandals. People with toenail fungus may be reluctant to wear open-toed shoes or go barefoot because of embarrassment about the appearance of their feet.

Toenail fungal infection, or onychomycosis, is an infection of the toenails. The fungus resides in the nail bed beneath the nail, and can be a persistent problem that is difficult to eliminate. Toenail fungus is the most common nail disease in adults, accounting for half of all nail disorders, and affecting at least 12 percent of the population. Many people may wonder how they developed toenail fungus, and what they can do about this unsightly problem. The following information may be helpful when deciding to seek the services of a podiatrist.

What is toenail fungus?

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection caused by three main classes of organisms, including dermatophytes, yeasts, and nondermatophyte molds. All three types have similar symptoms and visual appearance, but a doctor can take a sample of nail or specimen from the nail bed for laboratory testing to confirm the diagnosis. This opportunistic pathogen uses any opening in the skin or nail to infect the nail bed, including trauma to the nail or surrounding skin, trimming nails too short, having a pedicure with equipment that has not been properly sterilized, or through the damage created by diabetic foot ulcers. Once the microorganism establishes itself beneath the nail, it rapidly breeds, and may spread from nail to nail. It is important to remember that nail infections spread easily from person to person, so it is best practice to wash your hands or feet after contact with a person who has a nail infection.

What causes toenail fungus, and how can it be prevented?

Toenails are a natural barrier that protects the nail bed from pathogens, however, an injury to the nail or surrounding tissue is a perfect opportunity for the infection to gain entry to the nail bed and breed. This fungus thrives in damp, warm, dark environments, and is easily spread from person to person. It can often be found in gym locker rooms, public showers and pools, and nail salons.

What does toenail fungus look like?

Fungal infections of the toenail may develop gradually, often beginning with a cloudy appearance to the nail plate or the appearance of white spots or streaks in the nail. As the infection progresses, the nails will thicken and harden, becoming discolored and appearing yellowed, white, or brown. The nail may erode, with jagged, crumbling edges, or separate from the nail bed. Onychomycosis typically does not cause pain, but for some patients, the nail may become so thick that it is painful to wear shoes. Generally, people go to the doctor because of cosmetic concerns, rather than because of pain.

How are toenail fungal infections effectively treated?

Toenail infections may be very mild, only affecting the superficial portion of the nail, and may respond to topical medications and debridement. Topical treatments have limited success rates because they cannot penetrate the nail deeply, and should be reserved only for use with mild or superficial infections. More severe nail infections usually respond better to oral medications or laser treatments. There are drawbacks to oral medications, including the potential for liver damage and the tendency for patients to see higher recurrence rates. Laser toenail fungus treatments are a fast, virtually painless method to treat infections, and are a very safe and effective treatment for onychomycosis.

How does laser treatment for nail fungus work?

Laser treatment targets the fungus that resides in and under the nail. The laser light passes through the nail, without causing damage to the nail or surrounding skin, targeting the infected area beneath the nail. During the procedure, the doctor controls the wavelength of the laser, targeting only the infected portion of the nail, sparing the remaining nail and tissue. The laser heats and destroys the pathogens responsible for toenail fungus, clearing the way for the new, healthy nail regrowth. It is important to understand that the nail will not appear normal right away. It takes an average of three months to a year for the infected portion of the nail to grow out and return to its normal appearance.

How the PinPointe FootLaser works

Clinical trials for this revolutionary breakthrough in toenail fungus treatment began in 2007. In 2010, it was cleared for patient use by the US Food and Drug Administration. There are no known side effects, and no recovery time is required. It is a painless treatment that takes up to 30 minutes to complete in a doctor’s office, with most patients reporting a warming sensation or mild pinpricks as the laser penetrates the nail. One treatment session is sufficient for most patients, but more may be required for those with more advanced infections.

Total Foot Wellness is a podiatry practice established by Dr. Alexander Reyzelman, DPM. With his extensive research and consulting background, Dr. Reyzelman has been actively involved in the most current state-of-the-art technology for the treatment of toenail fungus and athlete’s foot. Total Foot Wellness currently has four offices conveniently located throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Dublin, and Castro Valley.

If you are interested in learning more about the PinPointe Footlaser, visit their website for more information.

To schedule a free consultation at one of our Total Foot Wellness locations, call (800) 808-1779.