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VIDEO: Device-based therapy for onychomycosis



Several device-based therapies are currently being evaluated as treatments for onychomycosis.

These include photodynamic therapy, which has been studied in two clinical trials and case series, Shari Lipner, MD, PhD, said in a video interview at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, where she presented on this topic.

“Something that we’re looking at is plasma treatment of onychomycosis basically using ionized gas,” which has been shown to inhibit the growth of Trichophyton rubrum in vitro, added Dr. Lipner of the department of dermatology, Cornell University, New York.

In a pilot study of 19 patients with onychomycosis, she and her associates found that the clinical cure with nonthermal plasma was about 50% and the mycological cure rate was 15%, “and we’re now trying to improve efficacy using this device,” she said (Clin Exp Dermatol. 2017 Apr;42[3]:295-8). With a dielectric insulator, “nonthermal plasma is created by short pulses (about 10 ns) of strong (about 20 kV/mm peak) electric field that ionizes air molecules, creating ions and electrons, as well as ozone, hydroxyl radicals and nitric oxide,” according to the description in the study.

Other device-based therapies include iontophoresis, using electrical currents to increase drug delivery, and creating small punch biopsies or using a device to create “microholes” in the nails to increase delivery of topical medication across the nail, Dr. Lipner said.

Patients often ask about another device-based treatment, laser therapy, which she pointed out is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for cure, but for a temporary increase in clear nail in patients with onychomycosis, “very different” than the criteria used for topical and systemic medications, making it difficult to compare efficacy data between lasers and medications, she noted.

Dr. Lipner reported receiving grants/research funding from MOE Medical Devices.

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