Ugly Toenails? A New Laser Therapy Can Help With That

Nail fungus is common but not that easily treatable—until now.

Photograph courtesy of Flickr user sergis blog.

While thick socks and boots can keep your toes warm during the winter, once spring arrives and the sandals come out, you may sometime see an unlovely sight—nail fungus.

About 20 percent of people suffer from onychomycosis, or as Drs. Dale H. Isaacson and Marilyn Berzin of DC Derm Docs call it, “ugly-nail syndrome.” In people who have a genetic propensity to the fungus, it’s brought out by sweaty feet, poor sock or shoe ventilation, and walking barefoot in damp areas such as gym locker rooms.

An FDA-approved laser therapy is now available to treat brittle and yellow toenails painlessly. It takes only one ten-minute treatment to start seeing results within two to four months, depending on how quickly your nails grow, Berzin says.

Until now, the only recourses available were a nail-removal operation, topical medications, and an oral medication that can cause liver damage. Not only is the surgery painful, but there’s only a 40 to 60 percent chance that either that or the topical treatment will eradicate the fungus, says Isaacson. Studies show that the laser treatment significantly clears infection in 97 percent of cases. Post-laser topical creams must be used to maintain the result.

The Q-Clear laser treatment is available at DC Derm Docs (1828 L St., NW, Ste. 850; 202-822-9591; and costs $300 for up to four toes, $500 for five to ten. If needed, a second session is free. The laser can also be used on fingernails.