Lifewatch: Toenail fungus treatment

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - The Pinpointe foot laser is a new tool designed to fight toenail fungus.  Podiastrists say desperate patients come to them after trying various remedies to cure their foot fungus, but only 8 percent of people actually have success with topical antifungals.

To prevent foot fungus:

  • wear shower shoes, sandals, or flip flops in community shower or lockers rooms
  • wash your feet daily
  • keep toenails trimmed
  • avoid applying too many layers of nail polish

"It's very unsightly to begin with and I really never wear sandals and I would like to," said a patient too embarrassed to reveal her name.  "It's not really what I would call glamorous."

"Fungal nail or ochyomitosis is probably one of the most common problems in podiatry," said Podiatrist, Dr. Eric Weinstein.

Pedicures can be a source of fungal infection that's tough to kick.

"I tried topical creams and stuff to put on, but nothing really worked and I've tried them for years," said the patient.

Now the Pinpoint laser offers a new treatment option.  It was cleared by the FDA in 2008 to treat toenail fungus.

"The laser essentially kills any fungal debris underneath the nail instantly with the beam," said Dr. Weinstein.

It takes about a half hour and every nail is lasered, even if it doesn't look infected.  It takes 8-12 months to see full results, which is the same amount of time it takes for nails to grow out.

"The success rate is proven to be 88 percent, again there is a chance of recurrence if you don't follow hygiene," said Dr. Weinstein.

After treatment, patients have to apply an antifungal cream on their toes and use a spray for shoes and feet to prevent a comeback.

The price of the treatment costs $950, and insurance companies consider it cosmetic so it is not covered.