What is Onychomycosis?

This is a fungal infection of the toenails and/or fingernails. Dermatophytes are the fungi most commonly responsible for onychomycosis.

It is a very common condition and is estimated to impact at least 10% of the worldwide population. You may suffer from onychomycosis if you have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Thickened nail
  • Crumbly or brittle nail
  • Nail distorted in shape or separated from the nail bed
  • Nail without lustre
  • A white, yellow or brown discolouration caused by debris build up

This embarrassing, unsightly problem facing millions of people has been difficult to treat safely and effectively with oral or topical medications.

Oral anti fungal medications (tablets) can have serious side effects including liver damage along with other long term health risks.

Topical applications are often ineffective because they cannot penetrate the nail enough or at all. The fungus often spreads to the nail bed and nail matrix. Hot laser treatments can have a reasonable result but the treatment can be uncomfortable and it is quite time consuming.

Without doubt, the best solution is the Erchonia Lunula Laser system. This cold laser treatment gives results in a shorter time than a hot laser as it helps to promote fast nail growth.

Treatment involves low-level laser light passing through the nail without causing damage to it or the surrounding skin. Lunula combines two therapeutically beneficial wavelengths 405nm and 635nm. Both wavelengths are enriched by a proprietary, rotating line-generated beam (a unique delivery mechanism that maximises photon concentration and treatment surface area) ensuring that all infected toes are properly treated.

The 405nm wavelength damages the fungal pathogen, which can cause immediate death but also weakens the pathogen’s immune defences. The 635nm wavelength increases blood flow and improves the immune response’s attack on the weakened pathogen. As a result, the Lunula provides treatment absent of any adverse events while inducing key pathways to effectively kill the onychomycosis-causing pathogen across the entire nail plate/bed and surrounding tissue down to the germinal matrix of all toes.

Toenail growth is slow (approximately 1mm per month, compared to fingernails which grow much more quickly). It can take some time before any real improvement is noticeable but follow-up appointments are arranged at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months and photographs taken at each follow up to provide a pictorial timeline to show improvement.

Post treatment prophylaxis is key to reduce the likelihood of any reinfection. Most nail fungal infections happen due to untreated athletes foot (skin fungal infection) so patients are advised to use anti fungal sprays as necessary. All footwear and socks/hosiery are processed through the clinic’s Klenz unit which effectively eradicates all fungal spores in these items. It works by using nano sized particles of silver and O3 (ozone). Patients are also encouraged to purchase anti fungal laundry agents (Napisan) and a sterishoe to prevent reinfection.

What is fungal nail infection?

Otherwise known as onychomycosis, fungal nail infection is a condition that can affect one or more toe nails or finger nails, although it is far more commonly found in toe nails.

The infection can cause the nails to become discoloured and thickened, making the nails difficult to cut. They can look unsightly and of course perhaps even make one embarrassed about showing them in public.

Pre-treatment preparation

A positive nail culture is required either from your GP or we offer this service ‘in house’. Sometimes other nail conditions can mimic onychomycosis hence requiring a positive nail culture prior to treatment.

Not everyone is suitable for nail laser treatment.

Before any treatment is started a medical history will be taken, photographs will be taken of the infected nails for later comparison. The nails will be filed and cleaned prior to laser treatment.

What does the treatment involve?

The treatment involves passing laser light over the infected nail or nails which destroys the infection. The treatment is quick and safe with no side effects on the surrounding healthy tissue. No anaesthesia is required as it is completely painless and you can return to your normal daily routine immediately after treatment.

Frequency of treatment

The treatment includes 4 visits at weekly intervals in order to make sure that the fungal nail infection is clear. We undertake lunula laser treatments once a week for four consecutive weeks. You will be followed up four weeks later for a laser boost and check of the nail/s.

Post-treatment recommendation

We recommend that you wash all socks and hosiery on a very hot wash – 60 degrees centigrade in order to kill all fungal spores that could cause reinfection. Your shoes may also be harbouring fungal spores and you may want to use a Sterishoe ultraviolet shoe sanitizer.

As part of our ongoing aftercare, your nails will be re examined after 3, 6, 9 and 12 months and progress will be monitored through photographic comparison.

When will I see results?

Toe nails grow at a rate of about 1mm per month so it will be between 3 to 6 months before you see any improvement. Complete regrowth of a new healthy nail will normally be anything from 12 to 18 months. The older one is the longer this can take, sometimes up to 2 to 3 years. Finger nails grow at a faster rate so improvement should be noticeable more quickly.

Who is prone to catching Onychomycosis?

Infection is unusual in children but as one gets older the chance of catching a fungal nail infection increases.

The statistics are:

Between 40 to 60 years old 15% of the population will acquire it.
Between 60 to 70 years old over 30%.
Over 70 years old there is about 50% infection rate.

Also people with low immunity, diabetes and HIV are more at risk of catching onychomycosis.

Is this treatment covered by Insurance?

Many Insurance companies consider this a cosmetic or aesthetic procedure and so most of them will not cover the treatment cost.

However, companies such as SimplyHealth will reimburse according to your level of cover.