Nail fungus (Onychomycosis) is one of the most common nail abnormalities.
In this article:
How common are fungal nail infections?
Onychomycosis is a global problem, affecting about 5% of the world’s population, and over 20% of adults over 60 years old.
The signs of nail fungus include discoloration of the nails, which progressively thicken or even crumble.
Onychomycosis symptoms range from mild to severe. Severe cases may become painful.
What are the risk factors for fungal nail infections?
The primary risk factor for developing a fungal nail infection is older age. Older people have a diminished blood flow and a more extended period of exposure to the fungus. A history of skin conditions such as psoriasis and athlete’s foot also increases the risk of developing the condition.
Walking barefoot in public areas increases the risk of developing nail fungus.
If nail fungus is not treated it can cause permanent damage to the nails and spread to the feet.
Treatment options for nail fungus
For a long time, there has not been a permanent solution for nail fungus. The available treatment options do not entirely get rid of the fungus. The ones that work are temporary; the infection may go away temporarily but return after some time.
The main treatment options are:
Antifungal pills are considered the most effective option available today, but it does typically take significant time for the infections to go away.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised not to use antifungal pills since the drugs can damage the fetus if taken while pregnant. In addition, the pills may have severe side effects, mostly related to liver damage.
Topical treatment (polishes and creams)
There is a wide range of topical treatments for nail fungus. Although they are safer than the pills, polishes and creams have their own set of drawbacks including:
- Very time consuming (normally needs to be applied/treated daily; it takes a long time before the results are seen)
- Efficacy (effectiveness is quite limited)
- Cost (treatment is costly)
Laser treatment for Onychomycosis
A large number of laser companies offer laser treatment for nail fungus, but the procedure is:
- Effectiveness is very limited (such that the FDA did not recognize it as a curing method)
- Quite costly
To summarize, to date, there are no good solutions for treating nail fungus.
Cold plasma for nail fungus treatment
So far, there has not been a non-systemic treatment that can be considered entirely effective. However, there is some good news for people with nail fungus. Thanks to medical innovation, an effective treatment option may now be available: cold plasma.
Recent studies have shown the potential of cold plasma in the treatment of nail fungus. Nova Plasma is playing an important role in developing plasma treatment for nail fungus. The treatment is not available for use yet, but in-vitro studies have shown that it may be the perfect nail fungus solution.
How is cold plasma used to treat nail fungus?
Cold plasma could deliver effective and safe treatment for Onychomycosis.
Cold plasma has a wide array of medical applications ranging from curing wounds, removing tumors, skin disinfection, and coagulating blood. The list of medical applications for cold plasma technology is ever-growing.
To understand how the treatment will work, it is vital to understand how the fungi exist. They thrive in warm and moist environments. Nail fungus also thrives in areas with slow blood flow and low immunity, making the toes their victim.
Nail fungus starts as a white or yellowish spot under the tip of the nail and later spreads out to the corner of the nails.
Studies have shown that the application of cold plasma reduced the population of fungi in the applied area, including under the nail. On top of making the area inconducive for their survival, the cold plasma creates a mix of ions and excited chemical species that kill the fungi and disinfect the toe.
How long will cold plasma treatment take to clear the fungi?
One of the drawbacks of the available nail fungi treatment is that they require a significant amount of commitment and time by the patient and take a long time until they clear the infection.
Cold plasma is expected to have superior performance both in treatment time and outcome compared to the existing treatments. The procedures will last about -5 minutes per infected toe for each session.
In addition, since cold plasma treatment does not have side effects, the treatment is sustainable and can be completed properly, whereas patients using pills may have to discontinue treatment due to the side effects, without giving the infection time to clear.
Furthermore, because there are no side effects with cold plasma, patients will not have a hard time jumping back to the treatment if reinfection occurs.
Cold plasma is an effective, safe, and affordable solution for nail fungus
Recent studies have shown that cold plasma may offer the first effective non-systemic treatment for nail fungus.
Nova Plasma has also published an in-vitro study that showed the effectiveness of sub-atmospheric and atmospheric cold plasma in the treatment of Trichophyton rubrum, the most common type of nail fungus.
Other studies done in recent years offer hope that cold plasma can effectively combat bacteria and fungi.
Cold plasma may deliver a breakthrough in the treatment of fungal nail infections
Nail fungus treatment has, historically, been slow, tedious, expensive, and often unable to deliver lasting relief. Oral treatments are associated with serious side effects.
Cold plasma may offer an effective, safe and affordable option. It takes a significantly shorter time to clear the infection and the rate of recurrence is expected to be lower compared to the other treatments.
For more information about cold plasma technology, read the cold plasma frequently asked questions page.
Selected references – cold plasma treatment for nail fungus
- Avner Shemer, Ralph Daniel, Riad Kassem, Yuval Geffen, Eran Galili, Cold sub-atmospheric and atmospheric pressure plasma for the treatment of Trichophyton rubrum onychomycosis: An in-vitro study, Dermatologic Therapy 2020; e14084
- Borges AC, Nishime TMC, de Moura Rovetta S, et al. Cold atmospheric pressure plasma jet reduces Trichophyton rubrum adherence and infection capacity. Mycopathologia. 2019;184:585-595.
- Jaroslav Lux, Radim Dobiáš , Ivana Kuklová, et al. Inactivation of Dermatophytes Causing Onychomycosis and Its Therapy Using Non-Thermal Plasma, J. Fungi 2020, 6, 214; doi:10.3390/jof6040214
- Lipner SR, Scher RK. Onychomycosis: Clinical overview and diagnosis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019;80:835-851.