Laser therapy of onychomycosis

J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2014 Jan;12(1):33-8. doi: 10.1111/ddg.12251. Epub 2013 Nov 18.


Since 2010 the FDA has approved laser systems as capable of producing a "temporary increase in clear nails" in patients with onychomycosis. Fungal eradication is probably mediated by heat in infrared laser systems; their efficacy has been confirmed thermographically, histologically and in electron microscopy. Another approach to decontaminate the nail organ is to disrupt fungi and spores by q-switched pulse applications. Recently specific combinations of wavelengths have been tested for their ability to disrupt the mitochondrial transmembrane potential at physiological temperatures by generating ATP and ROS. While clinically extremely high clearance rates of approximately 87.5-95.8 % have been reported, in-vitro investigations have failed to confirm the clearance. The variety of systems and advised parameters hampers a systematic evaluation. Recommendations for safe and practical treatment protocols, informed consent items, and combination with conventional treatment options are all areas of active work. Currently there is a lack of data concerning the long-term efficacy of laser therapy of onychomycosis; certified treatment protocols are needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Foot Dermatoses / pathology
  • Foot Dermatoses / therapy*
  • Hand Dermatoses / pathology
  • Hand Dermatoses / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Laser Therapy / methods*
  • Nails / pathology
  • Nails / radiation effects*
  • Onychomycosis / pathology
  • Onychomycosis / therapy*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Treatment Outcome