What is laser treatment for nail fungus?

Laser treatment uses concentrated light to kill the nail fungus and prevent its growth. Several types of laser treatments are available, which may affect how well the therapy works for a person.

Laser treatment for nail fungus started in the 1980s. Since then, new types of laser treatments have gradually entered the market.

Groups that may benefit most from laser treatment include:

people with kidney or liver disease

people living with diabetes

older individuals with medication intolerance

Nail fungus can be difficult to remove. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source suggest that early treatment can help improve outcomes. The CDC also warns that nail fungus can spread to other areas of the body if left untreated.

Laser treatment for nail fungus can vary in cost based on:

the clinic

geographic location

equipment used

number of sessions

Some estimates indicate the cost can range from around $200700 per session. A person should contact the clinic before scheduling to determine costs and the number of sessions they expect. Insurance may consider the procedure cosmetic, which means they will not cover any costs.


What to expect

It is unclear how laser treatment removes nail fungus, but some expertsTrusted Source believe that light penetrates the nail and absorbs the fungus. The absorption of light causes either damage or death of the fungus cells.

The majority of people will not feel any discomfort from the procedure.


During the procedure

During a procedure, a person can expect to:

sit in a chair with shoes and socks removed

have a technician use a device to shine light onto each nail on the affected hand or foot

potentially feel some heat from the lasers

The process should take about 30 minutes.


Other information

Some other considerations include the following:

a person often needs at least two sessions, which may be 56 weeks apart

results may take about 2 months

all nails get treated in the affected area

a person may need to use creams in conjunction with the procedure

fingernails can take 36 months to regrow completely

toenails may take 1218 months to regrow completely



A 2019 meta-analysis found evidence suggesting that laser therapy is effective and safe for a person with nail fungus.

The researchers also noted that CO2 laser therapy achieved the best overall results among several types of laser therapy - the 1064-nm Nd: YAG and diode laser had a highly successful cure rate and a good safety profile.

While the overall success rate was about 63% - slightly lower than medication treatments - laser therapy may offer a more suitable option due to the risk of side effects associated with medication use. Other types of lasers may also be effective and safe.

A person should discuss with the clinic what types of lasers they use and the general success rate when scheduling a session.



Laser treatment is generally safe. Some people report mild discomfort and the feeling of heat when undergoing treatment.

However, one of the advantages of laser therapy is the reduction in risks. Oral medications carry the risk of liver damage or kidney or gastrointestinal reactions.

As a result, laser treatment may be safer for children, pregnant people, and those with underlying conditions.


Alternative treatments

There are several established treatments for nail fungus that a doctor may recommend. Some additional therapies for nail fungus include:

Topical antifungal creams: A person applies the cream directly to the nail based on the doctor's directions.

Oral medications: A healthcare professional may prescribe antifungal medication as a more aggressive form of treatment.

Combination therapy: This approach uses both creams and oral medications.

Nail removal: In severe cases or when the fungus does not respond to other approaches, a healthcare professional may surgically or chemically remove the nail.

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