Q&A: Does laser toenail treatment work?

Consumer Reports News: October 16, 2009 10:10 AM

I’ve seen ads for the PinPointe FootLaser, which promises to treat toenail fungus. Does it work? —A.G., Port Chester, N.Y.

That’s unclear. The laser’s manufacturer only provided us with one small, poor-quality study involving 17 patients with toenail fungus, most of whom appeared to experience remarkable improvement after the treatment. While the study reported no adverse effects, the system zaps the fungus with very high heat, which in theory could damage healthy tissue around the toenail. And it costs about $1,000, which insurance doesn’t cover.

Until more evidence is available, it’s probably best to stick with more-established treatments, including the oral drugs itraconazole (Sporanox and generic) and terbinafine (Lamisil and generic), and the topical drug ciclopirox (Penlac and generic), which is slightly less effective but has fewer side effects than the oral drugs.

Find out what could be causing your toenail fungus  and see our tips on keeping your nails healthy . And for more on how to get rid of toenail fungus, see our comparison of 7 drug and non-drug treatments  (subscribers only), including the ones mentioned above.

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