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How Contagious Is Toenail Fungus

What Is The Treatment For Toenail Fungus

Is Toenail Fungus Contagious? Answered by Houston Podiatrist

If home remedies dont do the trick, if the infection spreads, or if the nail becomes painful, brittle, or misshapen, you need to see the doctor. There are several treatment options available. More than likely, you will be prescribed an oral medication. Terbinafine and itraconazole are two of the more popular and evidence-based treatments. Terbinafine is especially common for dermatophyte-based toenail fungus. Serious but rare side effects include liver damage and allergic reactions. Your doctor may prescribe an alternative to terbinafine if liver damage is a concern. However, nearly all anti-fungal medications have some level of hepatotoxicity.

A podiatrist will be also able to trim and file the nail more completely than the average person. More serious cases of toenail fungus may involve temporary or permanent toenail removal. A podiatrist can cut out the hardened nail while leaving the cuticle and underlying nail matrix. This directly removes the infection in the nail itself, while also allowing for direct access to treat the underlying skin with anti-fungal treatments while the nail grows back. In rare cases, laser treatment may be an option, but this isnt covered by most insurance policies.

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Prior to having my bunion removed , boy was I nervous. But to tell the truth, Dr. Patel put me at ease with everything from start to finish. My foot healed exactly as he said, and I wondered why I put it off so long. Susans nurse/office staff took care of all the paperwork and working with my insurance always on hand to assist with all my questions.

When the time came for my other foot, well it was a no-brainer. Dr. Patel is my only choice! I would highly recommend this doctor for any and all foot issuesnothing to be afraid of -take care of those feet.Sincerely,

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Can It Spread To Other Areas Of The Body

It is possible but its usually contained to the toes or feet.

When it spreads, a fungal toenail infection usually spreads to other nails, the webbed area in between the toes, and sometimes the whole foot.

In some cases, a fungal toenail infection can spread to the groin or to the scalp, but this is not common.

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Can Nail Fungus Spread

Nail fungus can spread, but not the way you might expect. The transfer of a disease from a person to person is a complicated process that could take many forms. To us, the words infectious and contagious are the same. However, in science, theyre somewhat different.

The word infection means that a harmful agent has entered the human body. For example, if you eat bad food, you will get infected with bacteria.

However, if you shake hands with someone or give them a hug, they wont get that bacteria. This makes you infected, but not contagious.

The other person wont get that bacteria unless they eat the same bad food.

On the other hand, if you have a common cold and you stay around someone too long, you will infect them with the cold. That means you are both infected and contagious.

Now lets talk about nail fungus. Fungi spread around by means of spores. Those are small objects that fungi produce which could travel by air or by contact to reach further places.

These spores for the fungus serve a similar purpose to plant seeds or pollen grains. The fungus itself doesnt go to infect different places, it sends spores instead.

The beginning of nail fungus is usually in one small area. The spores travel to the nearby areas and form new fungal colonies there.

However, the spores dont travel very far on their own. If you dont scratch that area, you could be around someone, shake their hands, and even hug them. They still wont get nail fungus.

Keep Your Hands Clean

What Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Toenail Fungus

Is Toenail Fungus Contagious? What They Don

If you have toenail fungus, you may find it helpful to ask your provider:

  • What type of infection do I have?
  • Do you recommend I treat it? Why or why not?
  • How long will I need treatment?
  • What steps can I take to stop it from coming back?
  • Should I be aware of any potentially serious complications or treatment side effects?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Toenail fungus is an incredibly common infection that can be difficult to treat. The condition usually isnt painful, but it may make you feel self-conscious about how your foot looks. If it bothers you, talk to your provider about your treatment options. A trained specialist can provide guidance on whats most likely to address your concerns while protecting your overall health.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/17/2020.

References

Read Also: How To Rid Toenail Fungus

How Does Fungus Spread

Toenail fungus spreads from person to person in many ways. The most common way is in places where walking barefoot is acceptable. For example, locker rooms, public saunas, and public pools are very common places where the fungus can spread. Fungal spores are contagious because they are capable of surviving on surfaces like floors without needing a host. As new people walk over the surfaces, the fungus spores can latch onto their nails. Then fungus uses them as a new host.

Another way to easily spread toenail fungus is by sharing shoes. Some people think its a myth but sharing shoes not only can lead to nail fungus infection but you may also get athletes feet. An athletes foot is a common fungus infection of the skin of the foot which then can develop into a toenail fungus infection if left untreated. If at all possible, our nail doctors in Miami, FL recommend never share or trade shoes with someone else. This does not matter how well you know the person.

Is Toenail Fungus Contagious Final Words:

Because toenail fungus is very infectious, it is suggested to avoid spreading it to your loved ones. Friends, relatives, nail salons, and damp areas are the most prevalent sites where people get toenail fungus.

So its advisable to take precautions to avoid getting the fungal disease by physically interacting with infected people or animals and wearing sandals in public areas. Though you may not prevent a fungal infection, you can reduce your chances of becoming sick.

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Early Treatment Is Key

Common early symptoms of toenail fungus include thickening and yellowing of the nail. Some patients experience itching around the infected nail. As the condition progresses, the nail turns brittle and may become misshapen, painful, and even smelly. Some patients will lose the nail entirely.

Toenail fungus can be notoriously stubborn. In general, the earlier you seek treatment, the better your chances to clear the infection from your toenails. This isnt the time to try Aunt Betsys home remedy though. Come in to see one of our podiatrists for medical treatment.

Left untreated, toenail fungus can linger for months and years, and symptoms can continue to progress in severity.

One: Help Avoid And Actively Remove Spores From Your Environment

How do you get toenail fungus Is it contagious
  • Wipe down your showers, floors and high-risk surfaces with an antifungal detergent
  • Hot-was your bed sheets and socks with an antifungal laundry wash like Canesten
  • Wear thongs in public areas like swimming pools, showers and changing rooms
  • Treat any existing Athletes foot infections
  • Keep your toenails trimmed and remove the build-up of dead skin, dirt and bacteria from beneath your toenails
  • Dont share shoes or socks with someone who has a fungal nail infection
  • Avoid nail salons that have questionable hygiene practices or dont sterilise their instruments

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How Contagious Is Toenail Fungus

While toenail fungus can be treated, it can also spread to your friends, family and other people in your community. Here is a look at how toenail fungus is transmitted and how you can be prepared:

Direct Contact

Toenail fungus spreads through physical contact. So, be sure to prevent direct foot-to-foot contact with your partner and/or family. Underlying conditions like diabetes can make people especially receptive to fungus. Fortunately, toenail fungus is usually restricted to your feet, so careful hugs will not be an issue. Washing your hands regularly and putting on socks before your pants will reduce any risk of direct transmission.

Indirect Contact

Toenail fungus can also be transmitted through supplies like hygiene products. Avoid using someone elses nail polish or clippers and make sure others are not using your toiletries. The same applies to getting a pedicure. Do not share your comfy house shoes or beach towels until the treatment is finished. If possible, wash your socks separately from other clothes. Studies show washing your feet at 60ºC/140ºF will eliminate most spores.

Because toenail fungus can be spread through wet and dry surfaces like your kitchen floor, we recommend wearing breathable socks and shoes inside your home. Wipe and disinfect surfaces that come into contact with your feet.

What Happens If You Leave Toenail Fungus Untreated

With all of the major health risks out there, such as cancer and diabetes, having a yellowed nail caused by toenail fungus may seem minor. Because toenail fungus is rarely unpleasant, many individuals avoid getting treatment.

While many people are generally healthy and may dismiss it as a cosmetic issue, neglecting a fungus-infected toenail might have long-term health effects. Risks of a toenail fungus infection:

Foot Pain:

A fungus-infected nail can thicken and grow deformed with time, causing discomfort. When wearing shoes, it might make walking difficult.

Spread Of The Fungus:

Untreated toenail fungus sometimes can migrate to the surrounding skin of the foot. It can lead to an athletes foot, a disease characterized by itching, red, cracked skin. If you wearing shoes and socks all day and one of your toes becomes infected, the infection can spread quickly because fungus flourishes in a warm, dark, wet environment.

According to research, the fungus can travel to the genitals, where it causes heel itch, a disease that can afflict both men and women.

Widespread Infection:

This toenail fungal infection consequence is especially concerning for persons who have diabetes or other serious diseases that impair the immune system. Bacteria can enter the body if a toenail fungus travels to the skin and causes it to break.

Loss Of Nails:

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Fungal Nail Infection Causes

Itâs a good idea to wash your hands and feet often. Use soap, and make sure you get between your fingers and toes.

Keep your fingernails and toenails short and trimmed straight across.

Wear socks that wick away moisture. If your feet sweat a lot, change your socks once or twice a day, or take off your shoes and let your feet cool when you have the chance.

Use antifungal powder or spray on your feet as well as in your shoes. Throw away old pairs of closed-toe shoes since fungi might be living in them.

If you get manicures at nail salons, visit only the ones that disinfect tools after each client. You can also bring your own file and clippers from home. Ask that your cuticles not be cut, since this can cause tiny breaks in the skin that let germs in.

Donât share towels if someone else in your family has nail fungus. This will pass around the infection.

See your doctor if you think you have nail fungus. You may need a prescription to treat it, whether that means taking a medicine by mouth or using a special cream. In severe cases, your nail may need to be removed so a healthy new one can grow in its place. Doctors can also use lasers to treat nail fungus.

You get an infection when a crack in your nail or the skin around it allows fungus to get inside and grow.

Youâre more likely to get a fungal nail infection if you:

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On My First Visit Dr Patel Diagnosed The Problem As Plantar Fasciitis And Began Treatment

Podiatry Associates of Belleville

I was dealing with nearly unbearable pain in my left foot. I was barely able to get through each day. I was sure my neuropathy was the problem. I went to a local podiatrist who told me the only problem I had was the neuropathy in my feet and I needed to see a neurologist. After conferring with my family doctor he referred me to Dr. Sanjay Patel.

On my first visit, Dr. Patel diagnosed the problem as Plantar Fasciitis and began treatment. After following Dr. Patels advice I no longer have pain in my left foot.

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So Can Toenail Fungus Spread Internally

Yes, the fungi that cause this infection are in fact very contagious and they can spread to other parts of the body and even in the blood as well if not treated properly. But most commonly they spread to other nails of the feet or fingernail.

I always recommend that once you realize you have nail fungus you should get it treated as soon as possible before it gets late.

Ignoring a fungus is very dangerous, and finding out what happens to a fungal infection if left untreated likely isnt something you want to experience yourself.

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Fungal Nail Infection Symptoms

Symptoms are different depending on which type of fungal nail infection you have. They usually start mild and get more serious.

  • At first, you may only see a white or yellow spot under your nail. Over time, this spreads and can turn your whole nail white, yellow, green, or black.
  • The nail may thicken and could be hard to trim.
  • It may start to curl up or down or loosen from the nail bed.
  • Your nail could become brittle and crumble when you touch it.
  • Your nail may become misshapen.
  • You may notice a bad smell.

Itâs easy to ignore fungal nail infections at first, since you may not have any pain. But if you donât treat them, it can hurt to put any pressure on the area. If an infection gets bad enough, it could even become hard to walk.

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What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Toenail Fungus

The most effective toenail fungus treatment for you will largely depend on your symptoms and situation. Your provider will consider several factors before recommending a treatment plan thats customized to you.

Overall, oral antifungal medications may offer the most treatment potential. Pairing oral drugs with topical antifungal medication may make treatment more effective.

Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus:

Is Toenail Fungus Contagious? Is Toenail Fungus Contagious To Fingernails?
  • Baking Soda:
  • Baking soda soaks up moisture that may cause toenail fungus. Baking soda was examined for its effect on common fungi that cause illnesses, such as toenail fungus.

    Baking soda inhibited fungal development in 79 percent of the specimens tested, according to the researchers. Baking soda inhibited fungal development in another 17% of cases, but it did not eliminate it.

    How To Use It?

    To absorb moisture, consider placing baking soda inside your socks and shoes.

    People can also use a baking soda and water mixture directly to the infected nail and leave it on for at least 10 minutes before washing. Repeat many times a day until the fungus is gone.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar:
  • Another home treatment for toenail fungus is to use apple cider vinegar. Vinegar has antifungal properties and may be used with water to make a foot soak. Its acetic acid element assists in the whitening of discolored toenails and the prevention of infection spreading to other toes.

    How To Use It?

    Soak your feet in two parts vinegar to one part of lukewarm water for 20 minutes every day. For a more intense foot soak, use one part vinegar to one part water. Essential oils can be used to make the situation more pleasant if the fragrance is too strong. Both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar are equally effective.

  • Garlic:
  • Garlic, which is typically used to season food, may also help cure toenail fungus. There is some evidence to support this assertion, however, it is limited.

    How To Use It?

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    Risk Factors Open The Door To Fingernail And Toenail Fungi

    If diabetes is present, poor circulation to feet and hands and a weakened immune system require that you consult a doctor at the first sign of fungal infection. Know that If youve ever had athletes foot, youre already at higher risk of toenail infection. Other health problems you have or medications youre taking will help determine which antifungal treatment your doctor prescribes. Your physician may immediately refer you to a DPM or dermatologist for treatment.

    Tinea unguium is a common fungal infection of toenails, but may also affect fingernails. Particularly susceptible to this are men, older adults, diabetics, those with peripheral vascular disease, or anyone with a weakened immune system. Bleeding or bruising under the nail caused by injury may allow fungi and bacteria onto the nail bed and cause a fungal or bacterial infection. Treatable fungal infection and ringworm are also caused by dermatophytes, the most common pathogenic fungi to grow on skin, mucous membranes, hair, and nails. Cellulitis may erupt in severe cases of untreated foot fungus and skin infection. A potentially serious bacterial infection, cellulitis can enter the bloodstream and, unchecked, become life-threatening.

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