Onychomycosis is a common fungal infection, afflicting some 10% of the adult population in industrialized countries. Aside from cosmetic concerns, onychomycosis can be the cause of toe and foot pain, as well as the underlying etiology for serious secondary bacterial infections and traumatic ulcerations. In select populations, such as diabetics, the latter conditions may even result in loss of all or part of the lower extremity. Thus, a simple, cost-effective and safe treatment for onychomycosis is highly desirable. Although both topical and oral systemic antifungal agents are available for this purpose, they are not always effective, carry some medical risks, are associated with potentially significant drug-drug interactions, and may be unacceptable to patient and healthcare provider alike. Physical modalities, such as laser therapy, therefore appear appealing. The question is whether laser treatment is sufficiently efficacious and safe to warrant the current high cost per treatment. The readily available literature on this controversy will be reviewed herein.
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