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Nail fungus cure

If you can't beat em, heat em.
  [vote for,

Nail fungus is a persistent and troublesome problem. The fungi responsible hide between the dead layers of keratin, where they are inaccessible to the immune system and where drugs have difficulty penetrating. There is a pill for nail fungus, but you have to take it for 3 months and it may cause liver problems.

Those fungi are hiding in there, smug and sassy. But their fortress can be used against them. I propose a device which fits flush against an infected nail and heats in to 44 degrees centigrade. This is merely uncomfortably warm for people - because blood flow to the digit quickly cools the cells of the nail bed. The dead keratin of the nail itself gets good and hot. As do the fungi inside it. With no way to cool off, after 10 minutes of exposure to this heat, the fungi will die.

This could be a treatment used under medical supervision, or a do it yourself product advertised in the back pages of the Weekly World News.

bungston, Jun 10 2003

(?) Fungus Close-up http://www.weeklywo...s/batboy/batboy.jpg
[thumbwax, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Batboy: The Musical http://www.batboy-themusical.com/
[kevindimie, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Funguses Hate Heat! http://www.ncbi.nlm...ct&list_uids=416749
[bungston, Mar 25 2005]

Funguses Love Heat! http://www.ncbi.nlm...t&list_uids=7383140
[bungston, Mar 25 2005]


       What, do read the medical dictionary on the toilet or something?
waugsqueke, Jun 10 2003

       I'll vote for it but I won't try it without doctors supervision.
sartep, Jun 11 2003

       Is 44 degrees hot enough to kill fungus? It's not hot enough to denature proteins and certainly wouldn't kill bacteria. You might just end up creating an ideal fungal culture environment and then it'll spread up your arm and ever onwards.
hazel, Jun 11 2003

       If it were that easy fingers would already be baked.
Loris, Jun 11 2003

       44 degrees will kill most human pathogens - and kill the human too if the brain reaches that temperature. Part of the reason people have fevers is because many pathogens are less tolerant of heat than we are. An attenuated strain of malaria was used to treat syphilis in the 1940s: the treponemes couldn't stand even a mild fever. Heat is the disease sufferer's friend.   

       As regards Loris' comment - simple solutions are often overlooked, especially if they fall slightly outside the standard realm. I need to say this to a halfbaker?
bungston, Jun 11 2003

       [blissmiss]: Batboy is not evil, merely misunderstood. He has even had a musical written about him. See link.
kevindimie, Jun 11 2003

       Wouldn't it be easier just to soak your feet in the jacuzzi for a few minutes...?   

       (I had no idea toenail fungus existed until the TV started playing these ads which featured an animated foot fungoid.) (I kid you not.) (At dinner time, even.)
DrCurry, Jun 11 2003

       I found that you can jimmy the microwave door so that you can stick your feet in for a few seconds. I’ve been doing that for years and years. Nail polish dries rock hard...and I’ve never ever had fungus!
pluterday, Jun 11 2003

       I saw that spot. Really nasty.
snarfyguy, Jun 11 2003

       (jaw drops from pluter's comment) You are way too brave. Not sure I'd try cooking any part of myself, despite my need to set fasion polimers.
Worldgineer, Jun 11 2003

       Oh, I'm very careful. I never ever stick my head in....well, just that once...
pluterday, Jun 11 2003

       pluterday: I'm moderately certain that *most* people have never had toenail fungus. I'm off to do some research...
DrCurry, Jun 11 2003

       [DrCurry] It's 18% for the fungus. Here is some R&D:   

kbecker, Jun 13 2003

       A friend of mine had major trouble with fungus and couldn't get rid of it. Finally he used a sandblaster to thin down the nails. When each nail was just cigarette paper thin (treatment started to hurt) he stopped and used plain external fungus treatment. It worked on the second try.   

       A lot cheaper than pills and less blody than some other procedures.
kbecker, Jun 13 2003

       I ran into a fellow recently who had the toes of one foot removed because of a virulent nail fungus. Now, that did seem extreme…
ldischler, Jun 14 2003

       In large parts of the world temperatures regularly exceed 44 centigrade (think Africa, Australia etc...). Does this mean fungus doesn't exist in these countries? (of course the spores will be lurking around waiting for winter, but anyway...)
cevilthedevil, Jun 14 2003

       I like the idea. It's simple, addresses the problem directly and could work. More importantly, if it were to work and be marketed, it might get that stupid commercial off the air; I cringe every time I see the toe nail flip up. [+]
Fester, Jun 14 2003

       Forget the heat. Soak your feet in anti-freeze about once a week. Ethylene glycol will take care of about any fungus. Or how about Bordeux Solution - it gets rid of the fungus that damages my wine grapes.
Graybeard, Jun 14 2003

       I think [UB] is right. I think these fungus might be pretty heat tolerant. The solution: more heat. To prevent the nail from burning the flesh, the entire thumb, hand and arm would be in a sleeve of circulating icewater. By chilling the arterial blood going to the nailbed, the flesh would be protected and higher temperatures could be achieved.
bungston, Mar 25 2005

       I don't see how this can work if the nail- bed is kept at close to body temperature (which is what - 37 degrees or so?). For example, if the nail bed is at 37C and the outer surface of the nail is at 44C, then the mid-point of the nail will be at 40.5C and everything 'inside' that will be cooler. Even if the outer surface of the nail is at 60C, the innermost 10% of the nail will be at 39.3C or below - quite pleasant for the fungus. And as soon as the treatment stops, the fungus which survived close to the nail bed will re-populate the outer layers.
Basepair, Mar 25 2005

       Thermodynamics isn't that simple. (I wish it were!) Thermo in multi-cellular biological systems (especially in homeotherms with circulatory systems--like us) is exceptionally complex.   

       It's not only possible, but quite acheviable to heat a nail surface sufficiently to warm underlying tissue to 44°C or higher without doing any permanent damage. We do this when we wash dishes (YUCK)! Our extremities tolerate (and are frequently are much hotter or cooler than) our well-maintained and crtical core body temperature. Since the toes and fingers are even more distal (remote from the body core), they experience the highest and lowest anatomical temperature fluctuations. By the way, we know this for a veriety of reasons including IR photography and because leprosy , which favors (thrives in) areas that are somewhat cooler than 37°C, shows a decided prefence for fingers, toes, ears and noses--ANOTHER YUCK!
tessellationgac, May 06 2007

       A metal rod with various tips sized to match nail surfaces could be used. It might look like a soldering iron, but the temeprature control would need to be much finer (and of course lower).   

       I found a lots of interesting things doing a google search for the words: "medical heating" and "local hyperthermia". One article noted that the maximum temperature is determined by the Curie temperature of the ferrite rod. Such a mechanism could even allow the creation of temporarily attached metal plates that could be precisely heated by a magnetic field!   

       Or we could just immerse the offending finger or toe in a temperature-conotrolled bath hot enough to acheive the desried temperature--and long enough to ensure that the deepest parts of the nail are hot long enough.   

       Filing (sand-blasting, bone sawing, dremel abrading) symptomatic nails thin should certainly help--but might not feel too nice!
tessellationgac, May 06 2007


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