My boyfriend has toenail fungus on both feet and he had a discount laser treatment from another clinic about 6 months ago. We were hoping that this would help, but his toenails still look like they are the same as before the laser treatment. The fungal toenails are still yellow, thick and crumbly. He hasn't had any improvement at all. If laser treatment did't help, are there other options that he can try?
I am sorry to hear your boyfriend has not made a full recovery. If he had a laser treatment and the toenails didn't get better, he still has several options:
1. Re-treatment with the laser. This is the fastest way to kill the fungus. But if we do this, we should schedule more than an hour. I would recommend doing a double laser treatment in one setting. Basically, I would just make sure that the treatment is so thorough that there is no way the fungus could live through it.
Prescription Anti-fungal Pills
2. Prescription terbinifine pills. If I give your boyfriend a prescription for the course of pills, he will need to have a blood test to make sure his liver is in good shape before beginning the course of medication. He would then need to have a blood test again in 6 weeks to make sure he isn't having liver damage. The prescription medication can cost more than laser treatment. And the pills can alter your taste (making some foods have a metallic taste) but it is usually transient and goes away once he stops taking the medication. Also, he CANNOT drink alcohol while taking the anti fungal pills.
Prescription Strength Topicals
3. Prescription topical anti-fungal medications can also work, but they can tedious and very expensive. The advantage over the pills is that there is no risk of liver damage. I have seen one patient that had a bad reaction where he had to stop using it because the skin around the toenail became very red and inflamed. But this is not typical, and the redness and pain did resolve after he stopped using the topical anti-fungal on his toenail. The topical solution is applied to the toenails daily. They to be applied every day for almost a year. I have had patients tell me that they often need a few tubes of these medications since they have to apply it for almost a year. The cost can vary depending upon which pharmacy you use, but most patients have said they paid over $500 per tube in some cases. You would want to check with your pharmacy to inquire about cost before getting started, just to make sure it wouldn't be too expensive.
No matter which treatment your boyfriend prefers, we have to make sure that he has NO Athlete's foot at all trying another treatment. If there is any peeling skin on the feet that looks like an athlete's foot infection, then I would suggest either a month of a topical anti fungal on the skin, or a 2 week course of the oral anti fungal prescription pills (instead of 3 months) just to clear the skin fungal infection. Once the fungus has been removed from the skin, we could do the laser treatment to clear the toenail infection.
Making sure there is no athlete's foot is critical to success.
Please let me know if you have any questions. You can also feel free to call me directly at 415-308-0833 if you have any other questions or would like more detail.
Dr Christopher Segler is Board Certified, American Board of Pediatric Medicine. He brings the toenail laser directly to patients in San Francisco, Atherton, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and San Jose to so that they get have the laser toenail fungus removal treatment in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. If you think you have a toenail fungus infection that may need laser treatment, you can even arrange a complimentary web-consulation here.
You can also call Dr Segler directly at 415-308-0833.