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Toe Woe: New Laser Treatment May Help Toenail Fungus

Quinn Dombrowski

Toenail fungus is not a pretty subject to talk about, but it affects millions of Americans. Even worse, you're especially prone to get it if you're older.

By some estimates, nearly half of Americans get it at least once before they're 70.

It can destroy or at least disfigure nails, is painful, and can be frustratingly difficult to get rid of. Topical treatments often don't work and oral medications can have side effects.

Enter the laser.

In a fascinating story by Rachel Saslow in the Washington Post, podiatrists talk about using a laser treatment to get rid of the nasty fungus that turns toenails yellow and brittle.

The Food and Drug Administration last year approved the PinPointe laser for toenails and approved a second one, called GensisPlus, in April. The treatment costs about $1,000, according to the article, and isn't covered by insurance because it's considered an aesthetic procedure.

Reviews on the laser's effectiveness are mixed. Some podiatrists think it can be effective, while others feel it is no more successful than taking Lamisil, the most common oral medication for toenail fungus.

However, a Fairfax, Va., retiree quoted in the Post article says a laser treatment of his 10 toes last year has kept the fungus away so far. He also bought all new socks, plus a $130 device called a SteriShoe that uses ultraviolet light to sanitize his shoes.

He's also using a home remedy he read about to try and keep any fungus away: He slathers Vicks VapoRub on his toes.

As he told the Post, "My doctor said, 'Listen, it's not a prescribed treatment, but if it works for you, for heaven's sake, do it.'"‰"

Photo credit: Quinn.anya via

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