An update on photodynamic therapies in the treatment of onychomycosis

B. J. Simmons, R. D. Griffith, L. A. Falto-Aizpurua, K. Nouri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Onychomycosis is a common fungal infection of the nails that is increasing in prevalence in the old, diabetics and immunocompromised. Onychomycosis presents a therapeutic challenge that can lead to significant reductions in quality of life leading to both physical and psychological consequences. Current treatment modalities are difficult to implement due to the poor penetration of topical treatments to the nail bed, the slow growing nature of nails and the need for prolonged use of topical and/or oral medications. Standard of care medications have cure rates of 63-76% that leads to a high propensity of treatment failures and recurrences. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) offers an alternative treatment for onychomycosis. Methylene blue dye, methyl-aminolevulinate (MAL) and aminolevulinic acid (ALA) have been used as photosensitizers with approximately 630 nm light. These modalities are combined with pre-treatment of urea and/or microabrasion for better penetration. PDT treatments are well tolerated with only mild transient pain, burning and erythema. In addition, significant cure rates for patients who have contraindications to oral medications or failed standard medications can be obtained. With further enhancements in photosensitizer permeability, decreased pre-treatment and photosensitizer incubation times, PDT can be a more efficient and cost-effective in office based treatment for onychomycosis. However, more large-scale randomized control clinical trials are needed to access the efficacy of PDT treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1275-1279
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Infectious Diseases


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