Fungal nail infections have long been a pain and frustration for our patients here at our Melbourne podiatry clinic. We’ve seen many patients that have struggled with nail fungus for years before seeking professional help, trying every pharmacy ointment and cream without success. Others have resorted to hiding their nails in closed-in shoes and socks around the house, even in our Melbourne summer heat!
With fungal nail infections representing half of all nail abnormalities in adults, fungal nail infections have long been a point of frustration for podiatrists, too. Given the intrusive way they can take over the nail plate, with contagious fungus spores hiding deep beneath the nail, historically they’ve even been a challenge for us due to the lack of effective treatment methods that were suitable for everyone.
Thankfully, treating fungal nail infections in 2022 is a much simpler process (no daily lacquer applications!) with much better results, as backed by research evidence. Here’s a look into the common readily available antifungal nail treatments available – topical ointments and oral medications, and then what we consider to be the best fungal nail treatment available in Melbourne, offered by our podiatrists here at Sole Motion at our Point Cook clinic.
Antifungal Creams From The Chemist: The Lowdown
Referred to as “topical” antifungal creams for infected toenails, these lacquers, creams, sprays and ointments are applied to the surface of the nail. They each contain an active antifungal, which can vary but often may be ciclopirox or amorolfine. While the ingredients used are potent antifungals in theory, the reality is a little different. The anatomy of the nail means that when the solution is applied over the top of the nail, it does not reach all of the fungal spores throughout and beneath the nail.
Given that nail fungus spreads through these microscopic spores and that re-infections can easily occur after you finish using the product, or in many cases the treatment fails to work because parts of the fungus continue to survive, the use of these creams is flawed from the start. As a bit of background, studies show that the concentration of topical antifungals is reduced by 1,000 times from the outer nail to the inner nail areas.
Scientifically speaking, the success rate of topical antifungals has always remained relatively low, often being a successful treatment for between 5.5% and 17.8% of users. Even Rejuvenail, which claims to be Australia’s #1 anti-fungal nail brand based on sales, states that full cures can be expected in less than one in three people, assuming that the infection does not involve the lunula – the crescent-shaped area at the base of the nail, which it often does in the patients we see.
One frustrating thing about topical antifungal ointments that also impacts their success rate is that you must remember to apply it to all your nails every single day, often for a period of between 3-9 months. Not only is this time and cost-intensive, it also excludes people that have mobility issues and cannot reach their feet comfortably, while also having the potential to further lower success rates if treatment days are skipped.
Prescription Medication For Fungal Nail Infections
Once you’ve not had any success with oral medications, it’s not uncommon to consider whether taking antifungal medications could be right for you. This medicine must be prescribed by a GP and is given as a tablet to be ingested, bypassing the nail barrier encountered by topical treatments.
The potent anti-fungal ingredients in these tablets have shown higher success rates that go as high as 54-70% in terms of the mycological cure rate after 48 weeks of use, meaning that a sample tests negative when cultured and examined. While this is promising, the same studies have unfortunately found that the actual complete cure rate was only between 14-38%. Additionally, for those that experience success, up to 20% of people are found to relapse within a few months of oral antifungal treatment.
While these results do hold promise, oral medications have the downside of potential side effects and drug interactions. Nausea, headaches and abdominal pain have all been reported, while the medicine (depending on the active ingredient) has been shown to potentially enhance the effects of warfarin (blood thinning medication) and oral hypoglycemic medications. This means that it is not suitable for a range of people.
Additionally, being a daily tablet a person must remember to take, studies done examining compliance rates for oral antifungal found that only 55% stayed the course of the medicine. Of those that were not compliant, 29% were worried about the side effects of medicine, 22% thought that they had already been cured, 15% were due to economic reasons and 12% could not bear the side effects of medicine.
Our #1 Solution: K-Laser For Fungal Nail Infections
With all the frustration and poor results with anti-fungal creams and the unsuitability of oral medications for many people, we knew we had to offer something that would solve these important problems for our patients and help get them real results. So we invested in the K-laser for our clinic – and we, along with our patients, have been thrilled since.
The K-laser is an innovative and effective laser that works by producing infrared wavelengths of light that concentrate on the toenails and target the fungus. The laser is able to penetrate the nail on a deep level and reach the fungus in areas where creams and ointments don’t.
How does the laser work to treat nail fungus?
Laser works by damaging the wall of the fungal cells and denaturing the enzymes that the cells need to grow and multiply, stopping the spread and destroying the fungus. On top of this, it also increases the blood flow to the toes to help the body in clearing the infection while promoting healthy nail growth.
Is it effective?
Yes, laser for fungal nail infections has been extensively studied in many publications and trials and shown success rates of up to 85%, substantially exceeding those of topical creams and oral medications.
Our podiatry team also goes above and beyond to help reduce your risk of reinfection – read about how we do it and more about the laser here.
Is laser treatment painful?
No. You may feel some tingling or other sensations, but no pain. Your podiatrist is in full control of the entire treatment.
What About Plantar Warts?
Plantar warts are actually another common and bothersome problem that we treat using the K-laser, alongside other treatment options. Here, the K-laser generates precise heat points that target the warts and eliminate them quickly, safely and effectively while acting to help prevent their relapse, with a very low recurrence risk. Often, one treatment is sufficient to eliminate the wart, unless it’s a particularly large or stubborn warts, an extra session may be required.
The K-Laser also has a child wart setting, making it suitable for kids.
Get Started With Laser For Nail Fungus And Warts
Getting started with laser treatment is easy, and you don’t need a referral. Book an appointment with our leading podiatry team through our website here or call us on 1300 FX FEET.