Toenail fungus symptoms include discoloration and distortion. Fungal nail infections commonly begin with a small white or yellow spot or stripe under the tip of the nail. As the fungus spreads, the nail may become distorted and begin to thicken and turn brittle. The white or yellow spots and streaks will gradually enlarge and spread throughout the infected nail. These spots may also start to darken, turning yellow, brown, or even black. The nail will sometimes separate from its nail bed. You may also notice a foul odour emitting from the nail. In a few cases the infection may progress and become rather painful. If you notice any of these symptoms, medical treatment should be sought.
Moulds and yeasts are responsible for a toenail fungal infections, it is thought that 90% of toenail infections are caused by a type of fungi called a Dermatophyte. The infections are notoriously difficult to eradicate.
Sharing personal items is the main cause of nail Fungal infections.
These fungi are very contagious, however they do require a warm, moist environment to be able to take hold (such as in a shoe).
There are various different fungi, but they all share several similarities. They live in warm moist environments such as showers or swimming pools and are able to penetrate your body through microscopic cuts or abrasions that are not even visible to the naked eye.
The toenails are far more often affected by fungal infections than fingernails for two primary reasons. As a rule, toenails are more often subjected to the warm, moist environment fungi need to thrive (such as inside your shoes and socks). Feet are also more likely to be in places where an infection can be picked up – such as showers in club rooms etc
Secondly, the blood circulation to the toes in comparison with the fingers is considerably poorer making it harder for your immune system and your body to detect and ward off infections.
Poor circulation is commonly made worse by doing shoe laces up too tightly and wearing socks that don’t offer ventilation.
Typically toenails grow at about 1mm per month. As you get older the rate of nail growth slows. For those who have slow growing toenails, the chance of picking up an infection is considerably greater. The reason for this is that the bed of the nail is exposed for a much longer time period than in people whose toenails grow at a faster rate. The laser treatment will work just the same as on a faster growing nail but it will take longer for the discoloured/deformed nail to grow out.
As people get older their immune system gradually gets weaker which makes them more susceptible to fungal nail infections. People affected by diseases that compromise the immune system such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes also make these people more susceptible to fungal nail infections and they become more difficult to treat.
The PinPointe foot laser is a patented laser device that creates a pulsed beam of laser light with a spectrum on 1064nm. The laser light passes through the toenail without causing damage to the nail or the surrounding skin and is absorbed by the fungal infection under the nail, briefly heating it to a temperature that kills it.
Laser treatment is proving to be very effective, particularly with the PinPointe FootLaser. Typically a good result is being experienced by 70 to 80% of patients after having only one treatment however more reliable results are being experienced using a series of three treatments.
No anaesthetic or injections are ever used. Because the laser does not damage the nail or surrounding skin, most people feel nothing. Most people may feel a warming sensation and very few feel a pinprick.
No adverse reactions, injuries, disabilities or side effects have been reported in clinical studies with this laser treatment. In contrast, topical treatments are minimally effective. The oral medications available today can cause side effects to the liver, kidney and eyes and may even affect your senses of taste and smell.
At the time of the procedure, the toenail will not become instantly clear, it takes time to grow out. New healthy nail will be seen emerging from the cuticle area as your nails grow naturally. The average toe nail replaces itself every 6-9 months. Within the first 4 months healthy new growth will be visible.
In a high percentage of cases, the fungus is eradicated by the procedure. There is a chance of re-infection because the fungus is present everywhere in the environment. Just like you practice good oral hygiene to keep your teeth and gums healthy, you will need to practice good foot hygiene to keep your toe nails healthy.