You’ve developed a nasty case of toenail fungus and you’re worried about spreading this frustrating condition to others. Or, maybe someone in your family has the condition, and you’d prefer to keep it as contained as possible. The fact is that toenail fungus is contagious, and you’re right to exercise some caution.
To protect yourself and others from fungal nail infections, our team of podiatric experts at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle wants to take a closer look at how this problem can spread from one foot to another.
Also called onychomycosis, fungal infections in the toenails are incredibly common and affect up to 14% of the general population in the United States. Toenail infections are more of an issue the older you get because your toenails can weaken with age — about half of people over the age of 70 have toenail fungus.
In 90% of cases, the fungal infection is caused by a dermatophyte, which is a type of mold that feeds on keratin.
While not necessarily medically serious, toenail infections can be insidious and difficult to eliminate once they take hold. And by taking hold, we mean that the infection can erode your nail, causing it to become discolored, thickened, and, eventually, begin to pull away from your nail bed.
The fungi that cause toenail infections often lurk in damp and warm places, such as towels, sweaty socks, locker rooms, and public swimming pools.
You can also get a toenail infection by coming into direct contact with someone who is already infected.
Once you have the infection, it can spread from one toenail to another and, in less common cases, spread to your fingernails.
As we mentioned, fungal infections can be very stubborn. With advanced infections, over-the-counter products are mostly ineffective. Instead, we recommend that you come to see us so that we can prescribe antifungal medications.
Whether you want to avoid getting infected or spreading a fungal infection, it’s essential that you follow a few guidelines, including:
This last point is important, and we want to expand on it a little. One of the easiest ways to spread a toenail infection to those around you is by sharing nail clippers and files. You should always disinfect these utensils after each use. Even if you don’t share these tools with others, you can spread the infection back to yourself, so you should still disinfect them.
If you have more questions about containing a toenail infection, contact one of our offices in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Waverly, Smyrna, Gallatin, Columbia, Pulaski, Hendersonville, or Lebanon, Tennessee, to schedule a consultation.