If you have been dealing with nail fungus, you may be aware of the growing popularity of the use of lasers as an effective treatment option. What you may not know, is that now you don’t have to go to a doctor, or medical spa for a laser treatment. There are new, small, hand-held devices that you can use to kill the fungus yourself from the comfort of your own home. These DIY lasers rely on a special type of intense light to kill the fungus, which is a common cause of painful, unsightly toenails. They are part of the new wave of at home ‘laser’ products that can help with pain relief, skin care, anti-aging, and hair removal.
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Why use an at home laser for nail fungus?
Nail fungus, also known as Onychomycosis, is a fungal infection of the nail. It is caused when very small spores of fungus infect the skin. As it gets deeper into the nail, it may cause thickening, discolouration, and crumbling edges of the nail. It can lead to nails that change colors to white, black, yellow or green. Often it will become inflamed and painful, and in some cases the fungus can make it difficult to walk. It will not go away on its own, and must be treated in order to get rid of it.
There are a number of great reasons to use a laser to treat fungus.
- It is a non-invasive treatment- You can use the product in the privacy of your own home, with no need to go to time consuming doctors’ appointments.
- Easy to use
- No side effects
- Safe to use -There will be no visible harm to the treated nail or adjacent skin.
- Compact – Small and compact so you can take the device with you if you are travelling.
- Low cost
- Effective results
How do they work?
These at home products use something called ‘pulse laser’ or ‘low level laser therapy’, it is also sometimes referred to as ‘cold’ laser, since the low levels of light are not enough to heat your body’s tissue. These products that treat fungus are essentially a combination of pulse laser radiation and blue light energy. The pulse laser goes deep into the tissue and target causative pathogens that are on the nail bed. They use a wavelength of around 900 nm, so the laser is able to penetrate deeply into the tissue, while the blue light works on fighting the fungus cells found on the outer surface of the nail. The blue light also helps to stop the fungus from affecting other toes in the area.
These at home lasers are very easy to use; you just put the unit on the infected area and press the operating button. The treatment light will begin to blink and the device will emit a visible blue light. In general they will run for about 7 minutes (per nail) and shut off when the 7 minutes are up. For it to work effectively, you will need to treat each infected area on a daily basis. You can treat the nail up to three times a day, although most users only use it once a day, as it can be time consuming. The standard treatment when using a home product is 3 to 6 months for fungus to totally be cleared up.
Are there any side effects or issues to consider with at home treatments?
At home laser treatments are considered a safe and effective way to help treat onychomycosis. These products are painless and do not harm or affect surrounding tissues of the treated area. There is also no noticeable side effect or complications with at home laser treatment for fungus.
The biggest problem with at home devices is that they take time to work. While you are able to do them in the comfort of your own home and each treatment only takes 7 minutes (per finger or toe), you will have to do the treatments for 3 to 4 months to determine their effectiveness. Some people may find this to be too much of a time investment.
What are the best at home laser treatment for nail fungus?
Currently, there are only a few at home units available, so your choice of product comes down to a device from a company called Cure Ex that was launched on Nov 2015 in the U.S and another product that appears to be made in China and just rebranded under a few different company names (Ncure, Two Diamonds or HNC).
Fungus Treatment Laser Device by Cure Ex
Cure-Ex is one option if you are looking for an at home treatment device. Cure Ex combines two types of radiation: low level laser pulse radiation and visible blue light. Cure Ex goes after the fungus spores that are under the nail, and is able to kill of the fungus. It can be used on all infected toes or fingers without any worry of the fungus being transferred. The Cure-Ex has a laser wavelength of 906nm with a blue light wavelength of 470nm. The laser intensity is 22W. You would use it on affected areas minimum once a day for 7 minutes per area. The unit will turn off automatically when the treatment is finished for each area, and you can safety move it to another toe or finger if more than one needs to be treated without having to clean the device (the bacteria is killed off by the blue light). It is a simple unit to operate; you just have to press one button to start the treatment.
Some users see results by the 4 week of treatment although to actually cure and prevent future fungus you must use the device daily a minimum of 3-4 months. Cure Ex was developed by expert professors and podiatrists. It has been approved by the Ministry of Health, European CE mark and now is in the process of registration of the FDA.
HNC Fungus Treatment Laser Device
This model is a lower cost option that is offered by HNC. The specs appear to be the same as the one offered by the company NCure. There is a 12 month warranty, but no money back guarantee for this product, although the cost is significantly lower than the Cure-Ex unit. It performs in the same way as the Cure-Ex, using the same technology that combines pulse laser radiation and blue light energy, resulting killing off the fungus in the tissue as well as any bacteria on the surface of the skin. The laser is 905nm and with a laser intensity of 25W. The blue light wavelength is 470nm with a maximum pulse intensity of 22W. You should not share this device with other people unless you have cleaned the rubber padding.
Currently, at home devices range in price from approximately $100 to $270. While these products may seem expensive, compared the cost of professional laser treatments that can range from $500 to $1500 for a treatment cycle, some may consider them a bargain.
Does laser treatment for nail fungus work?
Since the treatment of fungus by laser is relatively new, research into its effectiveness is ongoing, especially with regard to at home devices (at the time of writing this post, there is an open clinical trial for Cure-Ex). There have been some clinical trials that look at the efficacy of professional laser treatments in treating fungus, that show very positive results (some show the effectiveness being between 80 and 90 per cent), but professional lasers are much stronger and more powerful than at home devices, so the result don’t really apply.
At this point, consumers will have to rely on customer reviews and firsthand accounts to determine whether it is worth investing in an at home device. Fortunately the Cure-Ex has very strong reviews with many users claiming to be getting good results with the product.
What else should you do to ensure successful treatment?
Since nail fungus is pretty hard to get rid of and to stop reinfection, there are a few simple thing to do to help ensure that your laser treatments are as effective as possible.
- Keep your feet as dry as possible and expose them to light and fresh air often.
- Change your socks and shoes if they get wet. Keep a dry pair of socks available if there is any chance of your wet getting wet.
- If you are in public places like a pool or locker pool always wear flip flop or sandals.
- Trim your nails frequently.
- Use foot baths and soaks with tea tree oil
- If you get manicures or pedicures, bring your own tools so you can ensure that they are sterile.
- Consider using an Ultraviolet (UV) Shoe Sanitizer to help kill any bacteria that may linger in your shoes.
What does at home fungus treatment feel like?
People will usually feel nothing. In some cases some individuals may feel a slight warming effect. The laser doesn’t affect the skin around the infected toe or finger, so users won’t feel anything in the area around the nail.
Can the laser device damage the skin?
No, its Class 1M laser device, which means that it does not emit laser radiation at levels that are known to cause eye or skin injury during normal operation.
Is it safe to transfer these type of devices from one nail to the next?
You can move these devices from one infected area to the other without spreading the fungal infection between the nails. The blue light technology that is used destroys any of the surface bacteria, so it is safe to move the device from one toe or finger to another.
How long does a treatment take?
A single treatment takes 7 minutes, when the 7 minutes is up the device stops automatically and you can move it to the next area. You can use the device once a day or up to three times a day depending on the severity of the infection.
How quickly will I see results?
You won’t see results right away. You basically have to wait until your toenail starts to grow to see how effective the device is. For most people, it takes about 3 months for a toenail to fully grow out, so you won’t see much of a change until you hit the 3 month mark. If you have a very severe infection, you may have to do the maximum number of treatments a day (three), in order to see positive results. Results can also vary due to the strength of your immune system; if you are suffering from other health problems you may need more treatments.
Does laser treatment prevent toe fungal infection from ever coming back?
Unfortunately no, since fungus is all around it is not possible to stop fungal infection from returning completely. You can, however, take precautions to avoid becoming re-infected.
If you haven’t had much success with other treatments to help kill off your toenail fungus or are unable to take medication to clear up your nails, laser fungus removal may be worth a try. Not only is it much cheaper than professional laser services, you can do it at home, and you don’t have to go to doctors’ appointments. At home products do have some issues, they can be time consuming and you have to commit to doing it for a minimum of three months in order to have effective results, but overall they give consumers a good alternative to pricey professional treatments.