Laser treatment battles toenail fungus

April 19, 2010

You can get it from the floor, the carpet, your house, your sneakers … even a bad pedicure. About 10-percent of American adults, or 23-million people, battle toenail fungus. Right now people spend more than one-point-two billion dollars a year on pills and creams, but doctors say they're successful only half the time. Doctors are now testing a new treatment that aims to zap the infection away.

It's one of the secrets of their happy 34-year marriage -- Delia and Manuel Cisneros love to dance, but for many years, they were both afraid to show off their foot work.

"They looked kind of ugly," said Delia Cisneros.

"I would do this, do that, all sorts of remedies, but nothing really ever worked," said Manuel Cisneros, who also had toenail fungus.

Podiatrist doctor Gabriel Maislos says chronic toenail fungal infections have been tough to treat.

"Historically, we had topicals that were 8 percent effective. Then you had the pill, which was Lamisil, but as you know, it can have an adverse affect on your liver and it's only 70 percent effective. Now we have the laser, which is 87 percent effective," said Maislos.

The doctor follows a grid-like pattern, passing an infrared laser over the toenail to kill the pathogens causing the infection, leaving the nail and surrounding tissue intact.

"We're able to kill the fungus at the source," said Maislos.

In a clinical trial testing one brand of laser, the infection was eliminated in 50-percent of toenails tested after four treatments. Six months later 76-percent of patients had clear nail growth.

"I kid you not, in about a week, week and a half, I saw the difference," said Cisneros.

The Cisneros saw results quickly, but doctors say it usually takes about four months to see a difference as the nails grow out. The treatment costs about $1,000. Delia says it was worth it.

"I'm just gonna go shop … shop, shop, shop, for shoes," said Delia Cisneros.

A couple hoping to kick their toe fungus problem for good.

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