Toenail fungus is among the most common conditions in the US, affecting approximately 10% of Americans. Known medically as onychomycosis, toenail fungus occurs due to an overgrowth of fungus into your nail, leading to infection. If left untreated, the fungus will continue to invade the toenail, eventually damaging the underlying tissues. Today, we ask the question – “what is the cost of laser treatment for toenail fungus?”

Laser Treatment

To cure this condition, many patients try over-the-counter (OTC) medications. These include topical antifungal creams, ointments, and nail varnish. Such treatments are notoriously ineffective. Prescription antifungals are usually given orally and are substantially more effective; where topical treatments can take a year or more, oral antifungals take effect within months. However, even the best oral treatments can fail half the time.

In contrast, laser treatment is regarded as by far the most effective remedy. There’s just the not-so-small cost of laser treatment for toenail fungus to consider. Below we’ll discuss the cost of laser treatment for toenail fungus, why it’s so effective, and the cost of other treatments.

  • What is the cost of laser treatment for toenail fungus?

  • How much do other toenail antifungal treatments cost?

  • Why is laser therapy so effective?

  • What to expect from laser therapy

What is the cost of laser treatment for toenail fungus?

Laser therapy is the most expensive treatment available for toenail fungus. However, it’s also the most effective and fast-acting. The cost of laser treatment for toenail fungus depends on the podiatrist’s experience and the laser being used. Certain types of laser therapy are more effective than others and typically cost more.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2011, the cost of zapping nail fungus averaged $750 to $1,500. Prices have remained steady since. For the money, you’ll likely get multiple sessions and a 60% to 80% chance the fungal infection is permanently treated.

Medicare does not typically cover these costs unless you have a diabetic-related nerve disorder. Some healthcare plans may cover the treatment, especially if other antifungal treatments have proven ineffective.

How much do other toenail antifungal treatments cost?

Compared to laser therapy, other toenail fungus treatments are substantially cheaper. OTC topical medications or generic oral medications are typically available for less than $100. Topical treatments may cost less than $20. However, topical treatments can take longer than a year to be effective, and oral medications may take several months.

More potent prescription oral medication can cost up to $500 – the price will rise for branded drugs. These drugs are more effective. For example, a 90-day supply of terbinafine costs as little as $10 at Walmart. Whereas brand name drugs, like the antifungal Lamisil, cost $500 or more.

On the extreme end, the costs of rare fungal infections like eumycetoma (very uncommon in the United States) can rise to $20,000 or more. That price can include amputation, in cases where oral antifungals are persistently ineffective.

Why is laser therapy so effective?

In simple terms, laser therapy uses powerful lasers to penetrate through the nail to the fungus growing beneath. Miraculously, the laser vaporizes the fungus, inhibiting further growth without damaging the surrounding skin and tissue. That’s because the laser is set to a particular wavelength only the fungus will absorb.

Fungal infections are so hard to treat because of the inadequate blood supply to the extremities. The body’s normal immune defenses are lowered, increasing the risk of infection. That risk rises in diabetes, where blood and nerve supply are impaired, and in immune conditions, where the immune system’s defenses are dampened.

Antibiotics act as a sort of “pseudo-immune system,” inhibiting fungal growth or killing the fungus. However, without immune support, this is a slow process. Laser therapy, on the other hand, targets the fungus directly.

What to expect from laser therapy

Laser therapy is a pain-free, quick, effective treatment. You will arrive for a session and be greeted by your podiatrist. They will examine your feet and set up the laser. It takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes per foot for the treatment to work. During this time, you should feel no pain or discomfort.

After the treatment, you are free to go home and walk as normal. Multiple treatments will be needed to produce the complete elimination of the underlying fungus. However, the nail will not immediately return to normal, as the damage caused by the fungus remains. It usually takes 6 to 12 months for a new nail to grow.

Is laser therapy for you?

Please speak to our expert podiatrists if you’re interested in trying laser therapy for your toenail fungus. We’ll schedule an appointment to inspect your feet and determine the best course of action. We’ll also provide a quote based on the number of treatments you will need. Thank you for joining us while we tackle the question of what is the cost of laser treatment for toenail fungus.