Whether wearing sandals, walking around the pool in the summer, or wearing open toe shoes at a wedding, everyone wants their toenails to appear healthy. Fungal infections of the toenails cause the nails to thicken, become very hard, brittle, and discolored; often yellow, green, or black. The cause is more related to genetic predisposition than environment. Fungus grows everywhere in the environment, including inside shoes, socks, on floors, shower tubs, floors, etc. It is not possible to get rid of the fungus in the environment. Some of us, however, are genetically prone to developing a fungal infection of the toenails. This can become a problem, as it can spread to other toes, cause difficulty wearing shoes, and potentially lead to pressure or diabetes related wounds under the nail.

Until recently, there were few options for treatment of such fungal infections. Use of a prescription topical medication daily over the course of 8-12 months, oral antifungal medications, removal of the affected nail without a nail growing back, or leaving the nail as is were the only options. The topical treatment success rate is marginal, with a cure rate lower than 20%. Oral antifungal medication success rate is higher, 60-70%, but requires lab work to monitor liver function while on the medication. Finally, removal of the toenail requires about 8-10 weeks for the nail bed to heal. Incidentally, removal of a fungally infected toenail typically does not achieve any long term benefits, as the nail will usually regrow with the same appearance.

Dr. Block and the Bluegrass Foot Center is pleased to now offer in office laser treatment for discolored toenails and inflammatory conditions. This painless procedure, performed monthly for three months, has a success rate close to 85%, requiring no ingested medications.A topical cream is needed as maintenance to prevent recurrence, and this treatment is not covered by insurance plans.

If you have dark, discolored toenails and have either failed other conservative treatments, or are simply tired of how they appear, inquire as to whether or not laser treatment can help your nails return to their normal, healthy appearance!

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