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The Vineyard Practice, Berkeley Street, Cheltenham, GL52 2SX

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Fungal nail infection

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection which can cause discoloration of the nail and dramatic visual changes which can be unsightly. It can cause the nail to thicken and break more easily, create more pressure on the end of the toe and may become painful. As the infection progresses it can produce a very distinct odour. Fungal nails are a common problem and are the most common reason for people being embarrassed about their toenails.

PACT Light Therapy

Fungal Nail Light Therapy Treatment or PACT (Photodynamic Anti-microbial and Anti-Mycotic Therapy) is a new innovative treatment involving the interaction of light, a photosensitive agent and oxygen to produce a local chemical effect. Human cells do not have a cell wall but fungal cells do. A special blue dye which is harmless to human cells will stain the cell wall of the fungi. This stain now makes the fungi sensitive to a specific wavelength of light. Introducing light with the high powered PACT system attacks the cell wall of the fungus. Growth of the fungus is stopped and will cause the fungus to be destroyed. The photochemical reaction induces fungal cell death without affecting surrounding tissue meaning it is 100% completely safe. It is quick and pain free and is available without a doctors referral.

This is an exciting new treatment for fungal nails which we can now offer our patients.

Have I got fungal nails?

A podiatrist or chiropodist will be able to tell you in most cases if you have fungal nails by a visual inspection. Occasionally, it isn’t always clear and a sample of your nail clippings may need to be taken and analysed. There are other conditions which can change the appearance of your nail so it is important to ensure that a fungal infection is present.

What treatments are available for fungal nails?

There are many topical treatments available over the counter for the treatment of fungal nails. The success of these products is varied and involves many reapplications of the product. Oral medication is available for some people and usually takes in the region of 6 months to work. This medication is prescribed by a GP if the patient is suitable to take the medication.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments each fungal nail patient will need will depend upon the severity of the fungal infection and the number of nails which are affected. Commonly, a moderate infection will require 3 treatments within a 7 day period, a follow up treatment at one month and then a further treatment at 3 months. A severely infected nail will require 3 treatments within 7 days, and then a session per month for up to 6 months.


What happens in a treatment?

Before light therapy can be used a thickened nail needs to be thinned to ensure the fungus is penetrated. This involves using a burr to thin the nail. This is a painless procedure and only takes a few minutes per nail. A special blue dye is then applied to all of the fungal nails and left on for a minimum of 10 minutes. The light therapy is then introduced to the nail for 9.5 minutes for each nail to be treated.


Is it safe?

PACT therapy does not use acids, drugs, lasers, and is a very safe effective treatment. It is not excluded for use for diabetic patients.

How long will it take to work?

The sessions are short and effective, however waiting for the new nail to grow takes a few months. Everyone’s nails grow at a slightly different rate but commonly healthy new nail growth is evident at between 3 and 6 months.

Is there anything else I need to do?

Preventing reinfection is really important to having a good outcome. It is important that socks and hosiery are washed on a hot wash during the treatment. Shoes which are worn without socks and hosiery will need to be treated with an anti fungal preparation. Any fungal skin infection will need to be treated at the same time. Your podiatrist will be able to advise of the best strategy for all of this to ensure you have the best results.