Background:

Topical onychomycosis therapies are usually inadequate, and patient compliance to systemic therapies is poor. Recently, interest in laser therapy for the treatment of onychomycosis has increased. We sought to investigate the efficacy of long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser therapy for onychomycosis.

Methods:

Thirty patients with mycologically confirmed onychomycosis received long-pulsed 1064-nm Nd:YAG laser therapy, moving the beam in a spiral pattern over the whole nail plate two times, with a 1-minute pause between passes. Laser therapy was performed with a spot diameter of 4 mm at a speed of 25 mm/sec once weekly for 4 weeks using fluencies ranging from 40 to 60 J/cm2, depending on the thickness of the nail plate. Patients were evaluated in terms of clinical improvement and mycologic cure.

Results:

Thirty patients started and 15 completed the study. Mycologic cure was achieved in nine patients (60%), of whom eight (89%) were infected with Trichophyton sp. Complete clinical improvement was achieved in seven patients (47%), all of whom were infected with Trichophyton sp. Mycologic cure was not achieved in one of two patients infected with Epidermophyton or in either patient in whom the agent was Candida or Aspergillus; complete clinical improvement did not occur in any of these patients. No serious adverse events were observed.

Conclusions:

Based on these results, long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser can be used as an effective treatment for onychomycosis, but further studies are needed to draw firmer conclusions.

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