Dr. Danielle Shaper, of Finesse Footcare, details the options for eliminating nail fungus

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The cold Lunula laser offered at Dr. Danielle Shaper’s Finesse Footcare can treat all the nails of the foot or hand at the same time. There are no side effects to this pain-free treatment. There’s no downtime and there are no restrictions. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Patricia Nugent

About 1 in 10 people suffer from toenail fungus, which causes thick, discolored, misshapen or crumbling nails. The condition is difficult to treat and more common in seniors. In fact, the occurrence jumps to 1 in 2 people over age 70 who suffer from it.

Since treatment can take several months, as newly healed nails grow out, heading into winter is the prime time of year to begin.

We caught up with local podiatrist Dr. Danielle Shaper, founder of Finesse Footcare in Lyndhurst, for an understanding of the treatment options for toenail fungus. She’s built her practice on following conservative yet effective protocols and researches emerging advancements in the medical industry before introducing them.

There are various antifungal treatments available, from topical creams/liquids both over the counter and prescription, oral prescription medications, micro-drill and laser treatments.

Topical antifungals are cost-effective in most cases (with the exception of Jublia) and are easy to apply, but are limited in efficacy and typically require a long duration of use.

The oral antifungal Lamisil, which is most commonly prescribed, is highly effective for management of fungal infections but can have systemic side effects and requires a prescription and regular monitoring of the liver for treatment. The oral antifungal may need several courses for optimal results.

Micro-drilling is a non-invasive technique that causes perforations in the nail plate to increase the efficacy of topical antifungals, but may cause some discomfort. Effectiveness may be limited depending on patient compliance with topical application.

Thermal laser is a non-invasive technique that can be highly effective when used properly, but due to the heat it may be not appropriate for patients with poor circulation and neuropathy. There can also be a risk of burning the nail bed if not used appropriately. This laser can also only be used on one nail at a time.

Non-thermal laser is a non-invasive technique that can be utilized to treat all the nails of the foot or hand at the same time with minimal to no side effects. Dr. Shaper introduced the Lunula laser to her practice almost four years ago and is still one of the only podiatrists in the Cleveland area using this touchless treatment.

“I have seen a significant reduction of the fungal infection with my patients and have been very pleased with this treatment,” she says. “There is no downtime and there are no restrictions. In order to keep up with the patient load who are seeking the laser, we purchased a second one so they can have both feet done at the same time.”

Opting for Combinational Treatment
Dr. Shaper has discovered over her career that the best course of treatment is often a combination of several treatments.

“I chose to invest in the touchless laser almost four years ago and have been pleased with the outcomes,” she comments. “In most cases, the most effective outcomes are produced by a combinational approach mixing two or more treatments.”

“Once the fungal infection is resolved, reoccurrence is always a risk, so I consult with each patient on ways to reduction chances of reinfection,” Dr. Shaper says.

There are many sources for development of fungal infections, from pedicures to contracting it from gym showers or pools. It is important to note that the choice of treatment should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional to consider the severity of the infection, potential side effects, cost and the patient’s overall health when making a recommendation. The effectiveness of any treatment may vary from person to person, and recurrence of fungal nail infections can occur with any method.

Finesse Footcare is located at 5035 Mayfield Road in Lyndhurst. In addition to laser therapy to heal fungus, Dr. Shaper offers comprehensive treatment for any foot or ankle condition, from heel pain to diabetic footcare, orthotics, bunions, strains, sprains and routine foot care. Although the laser treatment is not covered by insurance, Dr. Shaper does offer other treatments which are covered. Call 216-382-8070 or visit FinesseFootcare.com for more information