What is Nail Fungus and how to treat it?

Onychomycosis (nail fungus) can affect finger or toe nails. It becomes more common with age, and certain other groups have a higher risk of developing the condition – people with diabetes, athlete’s foot, or circulation problems; people who sweat a lot, or even use communal showers at the gym or swimming pool, and those who have damaged their nails.

You may have nail fungus if one or more of your nails are:

  • Thickened
  • Whitish to yellow-brown discoloration
  • Brittle, crumbly or ragged
  • Distorted in shape
  • A dark color, caused by debris building up under your nail
  • Smelling slightly foul

Nail fungus can affect fingernails, but it’s more common in toenails.

If you have found that antifungal nail paints don’t work for you, or you have read about the side effects (such as headache, nausea or diarrhoea) of oral antifungal treatments, coupled with the necessity of long term use of those treatments then you may need to have laser treatment, which is a proven method of eradication.  At Laser Clinic Galway we have the Nd:Yag 1064 laser which offers a reliable and effective treatment, without the risk of uncomfortable side effects.  This laser is able to treat all colours of skin.

How it works?

A series of flashes of infrared light is aimed across the whole nail, including the sides and base of the nail. This heats up and destroys the fungus that is present. To ensure complete coverage, the whole series of pulses is repeated four to five times, and the individual flashes overlap each other.

How long does the laser treatment take?

Because the fungus can spread from one nail to another, normally all ten nails are treated, even if nail fungus is visible on only one or two fingers or toes. However, treatment of the whole ten nails normally takes only ten minutes.

How many treatments are necessary?

5 treatments are necessary, spaced two weeks apart, with a follow up approximately 3 months later.  Following the treatment, an area of new clear growth will be seen.  Since the nail grows slowly, this clear area may take a few months to become apparent.  The treatment gives a feeling of warmth while the laser is flashing but it does not hurt.

Like any other treatment of nail fungus, laser is a treatment, not a cure.  It deals with the problem that exists, and does not give immunity against infection at some future time.

There will be homecare required until the new nail has fully grown out, and this is good practice in general to try and reduce the fungus that is present.

Neil fungus before and after laser treatment at Laser Clinic Galway.
Onychomycosis. Result 4 months post treatment, nail will continue to clear as it grows.


How to reduce Nail Fungus?

  • Discard very old shoes.
  • Apply anti-fungal cream or spray twice daily on the toe nails, between toes and on the entire foot up to the ankle.
  • Use anti-fungal powder/spray in all shoes every second day, and in socks every day.
  • Sterilise shower with thick bleach for 10 minutes, as there may be fungus/athletes foot on the skin of your feet. If you have athletes foot present, you should wear flip flops for future showers to prevent cross contamination to others in the household.
  • Throw out all old socks as fungi will be present in them or wash them at 60 degree celsius wash.
  • Launder towels and bed sheets in 60 degree celsius.
  • Change socks daily, and change again after exercise like jogging. Ideally wear wicking socks (dry fit socks).  Wicking socks are best for sufferers of toenail fungus and for those who want to keep their feet dry.  Wicking socks are made with synthetic fabrics which wick, or pull, perspiration away from your feet to the outer layer of the fabric.  They help prevent blisters and chafing and fungus.
  • Wear open toe shoes when possible, to allow air to the toe nails.
  • Sterilise the interior of all shoes with fungicidal product.
  • Keep nails short. Clip fungal nails last, to prevent spreading.
  • Sterilise nail clipper/nail scissors with fungicidal solution after every use. An ideal fungicidal solution is thick bleach and immerse clipper/nail scissors for 15 minutes.  Antibacterial or antiseptic products DO NOT kill fungus.
  • Throw out old nail polishes. Use new polish, pour into a disposable dish and use disposable applicator brushes, paint fungal nails last.
  • Dry feet well and do not share towels with other family members, as fungus is contagious.


Nail fungus is notoriously difficult to get rid of, do not ignore the problem long term as it will not go away on its own, and if left untreated can cause irreversible damage to the nail and nail bed. Think you are suffering from nail fungus? Speak to us today about laser treatment, don’t put it on the long finger (excuse the pun!)