Toe Nail Fungus is the most common disease of the nails and constitutes about a half of all nail abnormalities. Its medical name is Onychomycosis (also known as dermatophytic onychomycosis, ringworm of the nail and tinea unguium), which means fungal infection of the nail.
This condition may affect toenails or fingernails, but is more common in toenail infections and is present in about 6-8% in the adult population. Nail fungus can be very embarrassing.
The most common symptom of a fungal nail infection is the nail becoming thickened and discolored: white, black, yellow or green. As the infection progresses the nail can become brittle, with pieces breaking off or coming away from the toe or finger completely. If left untreated, the skin can become inflamed and painful underneath and around the nail. There may also be white or yellow patches on the nailbed or scaly skin next to the nail. There is usually no pain or other bodily symptoms, unless the disease is severe.
Nail fungus tends to affect men more often than women, and is associated with a family history of this infection. Other risk factors include perspiring heavily, being in a humid or moist environment, psoriasis, wearing socks and shoes that hinder ventilation and do not absorb perspiration, going barefoot in damp public places such as swimming pools, gyms and shower rooms, having athlete's foot (tinea pedis), minor skin or nail injury, damaged nail, or other infection, and having diabetes, circulation problems or a weakened immune system.
Treatment of onychomycosis is challenging because the infection is embedded within the nail and is difficult to reach; full removal of symptoms is slow and may take a year or more. In the past, treatment was a lengthy process and was either a systemic antifungal medication, or a topical medication, such as nail paints.
Today, Laser treatment is the newest, near painless and safe, treatment for toenail fungus. The laser treatment kills the pathogens that cause toenail fungus. The gentle laser zaps the toenail, killing the fungus instantly. Treatments take only about 15 minutes.
Most patients are cured with two treatments. Some patients will require additional treatments.