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Best Toenail Fungus Treatment

Noninvasive Q-Clear™ Laser Treatments

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Toes are often ignored until they are the cause of discomfort or pain.

However, there are a number of foot problems that need to be treated prior to the pain becoming prevalent, including toenail fungus. Infected toenails can be ignored and lived with, but there is a chance of further disease or infection if a treatment is not pursued. 

Knowing that toenail fungus affects nearly 25 million people around the United States alone, our team of professional foot doctors, at A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center, set out to find the best toenail fungus treatment available. During our search, we found the Q-Clear™ Laser, which is a noninvasive treatment that has proven to be efficient and effective. Contact one of our A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center locations today to learn more!  

Signs and Symptoms of Toenail Fungus 

As previously mentioned, pain or discomfort is one of the most evident signs that your toenails are infected with fungus. Luckily, there are a number of other visible signs that can make you aware of the issue long before it becomes painful. Contact our foot specialists at A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center today with questions or concerns!

Toenail Discoloration

One of the first signs of a fungal infection in the toenail is slight discoloration. Normally an off-white or yellow tint, this discoloration is caused by the infection working its way underneath the toenail. Toenail discoloration most commonly starts at the tip of the nail and works its way up the nail bed. 

Unusual Thickness

As the fungal infection works its way further underneath the toenail, it causes the toenail to thicken. While thicker toenails may not seem like a huge issue at first, if left untreated, they can become so thick that they rub abnormally in shoes. This is when toenail fungus begins to cause discomfort and pain.

Disfigured

The unusual thickness often leads to the infected toenail becoming disfigured. These misshaped and distorted nails can be extremely difficult to properly trim or clean, which can lead to the infection worsening. Fungal toenail disfiguration can also cause discomfort while standing or walking in tight shoes.

Brittle & Cracked

As the fungus slowly overtakes the toenail, it starves the nail of the necessary nutrients to keep it soft and pliable. This causes the infected toenail to become extremely dry and brittle. Even the slightest knick will crack your toenail, affecting not just the tip of the nail, but possibly all the way up to the cuticle.

Rough & Ragged

Toenails that become brittle and cracked due to a fungal infection will often start to lose small chunks of nail, causing an extremely rough and ragged nail surface. While this can seem like a small cosmetic issue at first, it can lead to something much bigger if the fungal-infected toenail is not treated properly.

Dark Debris

As your toenail begins to fall apart and worsen from the fungal infection, more and more debris tends to accumulate beneath the toenail. The sign of this occurring is dark brown or black coloring appearing underneath the nail. Without treatment, this debris continues to build-up and cause problems.

Foul Odors

Toenails affected by a fungal infection often begin to give off a foul odor as the infection begins to spread. The blame for these odors can be placed on the many types of bacteria within the debris that has accumulated underneath the toenails and has spread to other nails or even onto the skin of your foot. 

Detachment

The worsening infection can  lead to the complete destruction of your nail bed. Since your nail bed is responsible for attaching the nail to the toe, when it becomes severely infected, your toenail begins to detach. While not instantly, over time the entire toenail may fall off due to fungal infection.

Causes of Toenail Fungus

There are numerous causes of toenail fungal infections, some more common than others. Fungi, specifically dermatophytes, as well as mold and yeast are the typical cause of toenail fungal infections. But what is it exactly that allows these fungi and bacteria to develop and affect the toenail? Below is a list of common scenarios that may lead to a fungal infected toenail. Contact A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center today if you suspect an infection is developing beneath your toenail!

  • Consistently sweaty feet  
  • Rewearing socks or failing to change socks daily
  • Recurring athlete’s foot 
  • Going barefoot at community pools or showers
  • Health issues that cause poor circulation in the feet
  • Poor upkeep of artificial toenails
  • Shoes that are tight or lack proper ventilation

Toe Fungus Treatment Options

Nothing - Some toenail fungal infections are minor and never cause any real problems. Many people live with the infection for years before even being aware that they have it. While just ignoring the infection is an option, it is not recommended.

Home Remedies- There are numerous home remedies for toe fungus such as tea tree oil, vinegar, and other products that are known to possess natural antifungal elements. While these do not hold the risk of side effects, their success is not consistent.

Oral Medications- A handful of prescription oral medications have become popular to treat toenail fungus. While they are quick to show improvement, you must wait for the nail to grow out infection-free. Liver damage and skin irritation are common side effects.

Topical Medications- Prescription topicals such as nail polish and cream are also a treatment options, but full recovery of the infected toenail could take nearly a year. Topical medications are not a sure thing and may stop working after time.

Surgery- In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to either apply medication directly on the infected nail bed or to remove the toenail permanently. This surgery can result in lengthy recovery times as it is a pretty invasive procedure.

Laser Treatments- For mild to moderate cases of toenail fungus, laser treatment is the most successful treatment option. This noninvasive procedure uses a high-intensity light to remove the fungus quickly with no known side effects or recovery times.

Q-Clear™ Laser Treatments

At A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center, our team of foot specialists have witnessed the success of Q-Clear™ Laser Treatments and strongly believe that it is the best toenail fungus treatment available today. With the advanced technology of a Q-Switched Nd YAG laser, we can efficiently treat the infected nail bed through the toenail to avoid any invasion of the toe or nail. 

Our fast laser treatments get the job done easily, especially in comparison to topicals that you have to apply daily for lengthy periods of time. While the nail will still need to fully grow out after the laser treatment before the fungal infection is completely cleared, you will be able to see signs of improvement starting shortly after the treatment. If successful, nine to twelve months after the treatment, when the existing infected toenail is fully replaced with a new nail, your toenail will be smooth, pliable, and free from infection once again. 

Unlike the average prescription medications, Q-Clear™ Laser Treatments have no known side effects and a 95% success rate. If a small part of the toenail still seems to be infected a few months after the laser treatment, our foot specialists at A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center will simply reperform the procedure to clear out the rest and complete the job. 

Wondering if you are a candidate for Q-Clear™ Laser Treatments? Simply contact one of our A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center locations today and schedule an appointment. During your appointment, one of our professional foot doctors will examine the infected toenail and decide the best treatment option. If laser treatments are applicable, we will begin the treatment which should take just a few minutes, and then you will be on your way to happier, healthier feet. With no post treatment pain or recovery, you can immediately slip your feet back in your shoes, and get back to doing what you love as soon as the treatment ends.

Preventing Toenail Fungus

People of all ages can be affected by toenail fungus; however, seniors are at higher risk due to aging nails and additional health issues. No matter the age, there are a few different preventative measures everyone should take to avoid fungal infected toenails. Contact A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center today for more information!

Take time to wash your hands and feet properly. If you have one infected toenail and do not properly wash after touching it, you could spread it to others as toenail fungus is contagious.

Similarly, make sure you wear proper footwear in damp, public places. Going barefoot in these situations could lead to you spreading or coming in contact with a fungal toenail infection.

Keep up on the hygiene of your toenail, such as trimming, to keep them straight and smooth. Rough edged toenails could rub and create an open sore around the nail, allowing bacteria in.

Properly clean, disinfect, or replace shoes and socks to avoid bacteria and fungus from living within them. Failing to do so will put your feet and toenails at risk for infection

Ensure that you wear socks and shoes that allow proper ventilation to your feet. The environment in which fungal infections thrive are those that are warm and damp. Keeping your feet dry and cool will assist in having healthier toenails.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do toenail laser treatments work?

Our foot doctors use a Q-Switched Nd YAG laser, which is one of the most advanced dermatology lasers currently available. In 3/10 billionths of a second, impulses of high-powered laser energy passes through the nail, nail bed, and nail growth area with typically no damage to the nail or surrounding skin. At the time of the procedure, no visible change is seen until the nail begins to grow out. In a few months, a more normal nail is expected to appear with complete regrowth of the nail taking up to nine to twelve months.

What is the recovery period after the laser treatment?

No post treatment pain has been reported. You may resume all normal activities immediately. As previously mentioned, full recovery of the toenail could take nine to twelve months, but no pain, discomfort, or disruption of normal activities should occur in that recovery period. If you have any problems or questions, please contact A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center immediately.

Is the toenail laser treatment painful?

Most people do not feel any pain during the treatment. Some patients may experience slight warmth or an occasional snapping sensation during the procedure. If you have any pain during the procedure, the laser power can be decreased slightly to eliminate the pain. No anesthesia is needed for the treatment to be performed.

How long does the laser treatment take?

The amount of time varies depending on the degree of involvement within the toenails. Very thick nails are mechanically reduced to a more normal thickness with specialized equipment. The laser is then applied, which typically only takes a few minutes. Overall, a visit to A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center for a consultation and toenail laser treatment will take about 30 minutes.

Can I use toenail polish or have a pedicure?

Yes, you can apply polish to the nail immediately after the laser treatment. However, it is important to remove all nail polish prior to your treatment. If going to a salon for a pedicure, ensure that you choose an establishment that properly sanitizes their tools to avoid additional infection or disease in or near your toenail.

Is the laser treatment covered by my health insurance?

No, this procedure is still considered cosmetic and is not covered by most health insurance companies. If you have further questions about your specific policy, be sure to give your insurance company a call for details and more information.

Could the toenail not improve after the laser treatment?

The Q-Clear™ Laser is FDA approved and shown to be safe and effective. The toenail is expected to improve with just one treatment. Clinical reports, to date, have been encouraging with most patients noticing significant improvement. As with all medical procedures, a 100% guarantee is not possible. In a randomized three to twelve month study of 100 subjects, significant nail plate clearance was observed in more than 95% of the subject cases, with a mean clearance of greater than 56% of the abnormal or affected regions. Changing socks and shoes frequently as well as controlling excessive perspiration are helpful in preventing recurrence.

Could the toenail not improve after the laser treatment?

The Q-Clear™ Laser is FDA approved and shown to be safe and effective. The toenail is expected to improve with just one treatment. Clinical reports, to date, have been encouraging with most patients noticing significant improvement. As with all medical procedures, a 100% guarantee is not possible. In a randomized three to twelve month study of 100 subjects, significant nail plate clearance was observed in more than 95% of the subject cases, with a mean clearance of greater than 56% of the abnormal or affected regions. Changing socks and shoes frequently as well as controlling excessive perspiration are helpful in preventing recurrence.

A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center

A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center offers toenail fungus laser treatments at all three of our locations — Fort Collins, Loveland, and Cheyenne. Our team of foot specialists believe that you deserve happy and healthy feet, which is why we have spent years researchers the best, most advanced technology on the market.

Fungal infections that affect toenails are unpleasant looking and can lead to much more serious health issues if not properly treated as soon as possible. If you think that you may have an infection beneath your toenail, place your feet in the hands of our professionals at A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Center. Contact us today!

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