Your complete guide to toenail fungus treatment options

If you’re struggling with toenail fungus, you’re not alone. In fact, 1 in 10 people have this condition, which is also called “onychomycosis.” Just because it’s common doesn’t mean you have to live with it forever. You have many options for treating and curing toenail fungus.

Toenail fungus is not only unsightly, but it can also cause many serious problems. When one or more of your toes has an infection like this, it can cause:

  • Loss of confidence and self-esteem
  • Foul odor
  • Itching and discomfort
  • Cracking, chipping, and weakening of the nails

In some cases, toenail fungus can spread to other parts of the body as well. Luckily, there are many safe and effective treatments available.

Before choosing any medical intervention, it’s important for you to know the potential benefits and risks. Learn about your options toenail fungus treatment in Scottsdale, AZ. Then, compare the pros and cons of each option to determine the best course for you.

Laser treatment for toenail fungus

While it may seem like a new phenomenon, lasers have been used in medicine for more than 60 years. In 1961, doctors Charles Campbell and Charles Koester used lasers to treat a patient with a tumor in the retina. In the decades since, lasers have remained on the cutting edge of medicine as safe and effective treatment options.

Today, leading doctors use solid-state lasers to remove toenail fungus. This FDA-approved treatment In a few short, painless treatments, these lasers can kill toenail fungus and stop new growth. Some patients choose to use topical creams in between appointments to prevent reinfection.

There are several lasers available. At Arizona Foot Doctors, we choose the PinPointe™ FootLaser®. This technology was first introduced in 2008 and is clinically proven to treat fungal infections.

Pros of laser treatment for toenail fungus:

  • Proven to reduce symptoms by an average of 91 percent
  • More effective than over-the-counter and prescription alternatives
  • Painless with very few side effects, if any
  • Patients see improvements after just one treatment

Cons of laser treatment for toenail fungus:

  • Sometimes, insurance will not cover it
  • At-home lasers do not have the same results

Topical toenail fungus medications

Before researchers found that lasers could treat toenail fungus, prescription medications were the gold standard for treatment. Doctors can prescribe two types of prescription medications for toenail fungus: topical ointments and oral pills. Doctors can prescribe strong topical ointments, or you can find similar creams over-the-counter. Typically, you need to thin your nails quite a bit before antifungal ointments can work on their own.

Pros of topical ointments for toenail fungus

  • Usually inexpensive
  • Does not involve other parts of the body
  • Low risk of side effects

Cons of topical ointments for toenail fungus

  • Less effective than other interventions
  • Can be difficult for the medication to get to the fungal infection through the nail

Oral medications for toenail fungus

Oral antifungal medications can treat fungal infections throughout the body, including those in the toenails. Like topical solutions, there are both prescription and over-the-counter pills for toenail fungus.

The most common prescription pills for toenail fungus are terbinafine (Lamisil) and itraconazole (Sporanox). These medications are usually more effective than topical treatments. However, oral medications have more side effects than either lasers or topical ointments for toenail fungus. Because oral medications affect the entire body, you can have serious reactions anywhere.

Pros of oral medications for toenail fungus

  • Treat fungal infections relatively quickly
  • Typically inexpensive
  • More effective than topical solutions on their own

Cons of oral medications for toenail fungus

  • Highest risk for complications and side effects
  • Not suitable for anyone with liver disease or damage
  • Less effective in older patients
  • Requires frequent blood testing to ensure there is no liver damage

Surgical interventions for toenail fungus

If your toenail fungal infection does not clear up with other treatments or if the symptoms are severe, your doctor may suggest surgical intervention. This brief procedure is typically done in the doctor’s office with local anesthesia. The doctor removes the toenail and applies topical antifungals.

Without the nail in the way, topical ointments can work much better. You can then continue to use ointments before the nail grows back. In some severe cases, the doctor also removes the part of the nail that allows it to grow. This is permanent nail removal and only done in rare cases.

Pros of surgery for toenail fungus

  • In-office procedure that directly addresses the problem
  • Effective in removing and curing the fungal infection

Cons of surgery for toenail fungus

  • The most aggressive approach to treating nail fungus
  • There is a risk for infection with any surgery
  • Requires removing the toenail
  • More costly than other options

Toenail fungus treatment in Scottsdale, AZ

You don’t have to live with uncomfortable and unsightly toenail fungus. In fact, you have many effective options available right here in Scottsdale. At Arizona Foot Doctors, we’re proud to offer the most effective and state-of-the-art treatment options. Contact us today to schedule your appointment and start putting your best foot forward.