Fungal Nail Treatment Hartlepool & Cleveland
We are the first clinic in the North East and North Yorkshire to have invested in PACT technology. Highly effective and no known side effects this technology has meant a massive leap forward in the treatment of fungal nail for patients.
What are Fungal Toe Nails?
Fungal toe nail infections are an unsightly, and for many embarrassing, problem affecting around three in every 100 people in the UK. They are more common in men and as you get older. They can involve all or part of the nail, including the nail plate, nail bed and root of the nail, often starting along the outside rim of the nail which turns whitish-yellow, brown or green.
What is a fungal nail infection?
Fungal infections of the nails are also known as dermatophytic onychomycosis, or tinea unguium. The responsible fungus is usually the same as that that causes athlete’s foot – a common fungal infection of the skin of the feet, especially between the toes. In athlete’s foot the responsible fungus lives in the keratin that makes up the outer layer of the skin. When the fungus spreads to the keratin of the nails, the result is a fungal nail infection.
What does fungal nail look like and how do I know if I have fungal nail?
A fungal toe nail will often look thick and yellow and as it becomes more severe it will become difficult to cut. As it spreads into, or underneath, the nail plate it can cause pressure on the end of the toe due to their thickness which in turn causes pain. It can also cause a distinctive odour in more severely affected nails.
How could I have got a Fungal Toe Nail infection?
Dermatophytes (fungi) are usually found in warm, humid places such as bathrooms and swimming pools, etc. Athlete’s foot, another type of fungal infection that infects the skin between the toes, is very contagious and may also cause one or more nails to become infected.
How can I be sure that I’ve got Fungal Toe Nails?
Our podiatrist will be able to tell you in most cases if you have fungal nails, or if it is a different condition causing your symptoms, by a visual inspection. Occasionally, a sample of your nail clippings may need to be taken and analysed for further clarification. There are some conditions which can also change the appearance of your nail e.g. psoriasis so it is important to ensure that a fungal infection is present.
What is PACT Therapy?
PACT stands for Photodynamic Anti-microbial and Anti-mycotic Therapy and is a method that has been used extensively in medicine since the 1990’s for the treatment of wound infections, tumours and skin diseases. It works by using a special blue dye (Toluidine Blue) which is harmless to human cells but selectively stains the cell wall of the fungal cells; followed by an application of a specific wavelength of light to the area being treated using the PACT unit results in the fungal cell wall becoming sensitive to light, therefore destroying the fungus.
What happens in a treatment?
Before light therapy can be used a thickened nail needs to be thinned to ensure the fungus is penetrated. This involves the podiatrist using an electric burr to thin the nail. This is a painless procedure and takes around a few minutes per nail. A special blue dye is then applied to all of the fungal nails and left on for a minimum of 10 minutes. The light therapy is then introduced to the nail for 9.5 minutes for each nail to be treated. 3 treatment sessions will be needed in the first week and then one a week for the next 6 to 8 weeks depending on the severity of the infection.
The treatment plan is safe, quick, pain free and highly effective and does not require a GP referral. It is also safe and effective for use on patients with Diabetes. PACT Therapy does not use drugs, acids or lasers.
Following a PACT therapy treatment session the nail will retain a blue discolouration. This will vanish soon after treatment but in rare cases may remain for up to one week.
How long will it take to work?
The sessions are short and effective, however waiting for the new nail to grow takes a few months. Everyone’s nails grow at a slightly different rate but commonly healthy new nail growth is evident at between 3 and 6 months.
How do the different treatment methods for fungal nail compare? Which is the most effective?
Oral medication can be prescribed by your GP but it has to be taken for 3 months or longer, and can have a heavy impact on your kidneys and liver, with only a 56% cure rate. Terbinafine (which is the most common oral medication for this condition) occasionally causes a potentially very severe allergic reaction and can make some skin conditions worse, and in rare cases it can affect the sense of taste permanently. You can also experience headaches, itchiness and diarrhoea whilst on the medication. It can also affect your kidney and liver so often your GP will arrange monthly liver and kidney function tested whilst you are on the medication.
Topical treatments that have to be applied everyday for between 1 and 2 years only have a 22% success rate, but they are not likely to cause side effects and it is therefore deemed a safe treatment option. The topical treatments used most often are amorolfine nail lacquer and tioconazole nail solution. Alone, they may not be able to clear the deeper parts of an infected nail, though regular removal of abnormal nail material with clippers or filing can help with this.
PACT treatment has no known side effects and has a high success rate, with treatment taking place in the clinic.
Is there anything else I need to do?
Preventing re-infection is really important to having a good outcome. It is important that socks and hosiery are washed on a hot wash (60 degrees) during the treatment. Shoes will need to be treated with an anti-fungal preparation. A homecare mycotic solution should be applied during the treatment process and any fungal skin infection will need to be treated at the same time. Your podiatrist will be able to advise of the best strategy for all of this to ensure you have the best results. Fungal infections can spread easily, so it is important not to share nail clippers or scissors and also to disinfect your shower floor and wear flip flops in gyms and swimming pools, to minimise chances of cross-infection.