Have you been battling with toenail fungus for a long period of time? Are you tired of having to hide your feet? If your answer to either one of these two questions is affirmative, you might want to read about cold plasma, the latest treatment solution recommended for such infections. This innovative treatment solution will take some time until it becomes available for purchase but it cannot hurt to stay informed.
Toenail fungal infections and current treatments
Fungal infections begin with yellow or white spots at the level of one or several toenails. The longer the treatment is delayed, the more severe the infection is going to become. The infected toenails will thicken, modify their shape and even become detached from the nail bed. It is possible that the nail becomes brittle or crumbly, accompanied by a foul odor (due to the fungi consuming the toenail). Pain might appear with walking, in more severe cases.
The fungal microorganisms thrive in places that are warm, moist and dark, such as inside a pair of shoes. The infection often concentrates on the toenails but it can extend to the surrounding soft tissues (especially in-between the toes).
The recommended treatments include topical solutions, prescription oral medication and laser therapy. If the infection does not respond to the above solutions, the surgical removal (partial/total) will be chosen as a course of treatment. Each form of treatment has its own set of disadvantages. For example, topical solutions can require up to one year to clear the infection, oral medication leads to side-effects and laser therapies are expensive. Moreover, the risk of re-occurrence is high in all cases.
What is cold plasma?
Cold plasma is actually ionized gas, which was discovered for the first time, close to the end of 19th century. It is important to understand that cold plasma is a state of matter; it should not be confused with the biological plasma, which is found within our bodies.
Medicine has found numerous uses for cold plasma, as this ionized gas has potent antibacterial properties, it helps the blood to coagulate and reduces bleeding risk. Moreover, in recent years, cold plasma has been used in dental procedures (removal of dental plaque). In the future, scientists hope to use cold plasma for the removal of malignant tumors.
Cold plasma, an innovative treatment solution for toenail fungus
The possibility of using cold plasma as an innovative treatment for toenail fungus was explored by the researchers from the University of California, Berkeley. They concentrated their initial research on E.coli, a subsequent experiment including a fungus responsible for such infections. The treatment of fungal infections with cold plasma was researched by Device Farm as well.
According to the research made by the specialists from the University of California, the application of cold plasma led to a reduction in the E. coli population (20 minutes duration). The scientists from Device Farm concluded that cold plasma could be used to eliminate fungal pathogens, the application taking a little bit longer than the one for E.coli, meaning 45 minutes.
Even though the results of these researches are positive, FDA approval is required in the present, in order to be able to test cold plasma on actual humans. However, as it was suggested so far, it seems that this innovative treatment could wipe out a fungal infection, in a shorter period of time than any other remedy present on the market. In the future, this will probably be an outpatient procedure, with several sessions being necessary for the complete removal of the infection.
Interestingly enough, one of the scientists from Berkeley, has tested the cold plasma treatment on his own toenails. He said that the application is painless and that the results were exactly as expected, with the healthy nail growth being obvious. However, he mentioned that the reoccurrence of the infection was possible (small risk).
What were the specifics of the research?
The research performed by the scientists at Berkeley University started from the idea that toenail fungus is one of the most common infections in the world, affecting 10% of the adult population. They searched for an alternative treatment for such kind of infections, considering that each of the existent treatment solutions had their own limitations. Thus, they concentrated their research on the usage of atmospheric pressure cold air plasmas.
For this research, they used thinned cow hooves, as model of nail material. What they wanted to see is how the model nail material would react to the application of cold plasma, thus the bacterial or fungal infection of the nail being eliminated. After an exposure of 20 minutes, the population of E.coli was significantly reduced. The test was repeated on T.rubrum populations, which are often responsible for toenail fungal infections. A significant reduction in the general population was reduced, but after an application of 45 minutes.
The authors of the research concluded that cold plasma might be a suitable treatment, not only for toenail fungal infections but also for those caused by various types of bacteria. They added that ultraviolet light might increase the efficiency of the treatment, further research being necessary to confirm such a notion.
In a world where toenail fungal infections have become increasingly common, exploring new options of treatment seems like the logical thing to do. From the research presented so far, cold plasma is a promising treatment and one that can be pursued by people with pre-existing conditions, such as chronic liver disease (for whom the oral antifungal medication is contraindicated).
In the years to come, we will no doubt welcome more information regarding the field of plasma medicine and the usage of cold plasma for the treatment of toenail fungal infections. In the meantime, it is far better to prevent such an infection, rather than try and treat it. Avoid walking barefooted in public places, do not share your personal objects with other people and change both your socks and your footwear on a regular basis. And, yes, visit the doctor, as soon as you have noticed changes in any of your toenails.