Can I Wear Nail Polish If I Have Toenail Fungus?

Nail fungus is a common condition and more than 50% of nail diseases are due to fungal infections. Toenail infection is much common than fingernail infections as toenail infections have many risk factors. Approximately 3-12% of the population is affected by fungal nail infections. The prevalence of nail fungal infections is about 23% in Europe, 20% in East Asia and in North America it is about 14%. It is more common in elderly males. (1)

Can I Wear Nail Polish If I Have Toenail Fungus?

So, what will you do when you notice this discolored, ugly toenail? If you are not aware of fungal infections or not bothered or no time to meet a doctor then the easiest way is to cover it up. You would tend to cover the discolored nail with nail polish. Nail polish is acrylic and it prevents the moisture evaporating from the nail and it also prevents the sunlight from reaching the nail bed making it a darker place. Fungus loves dark, warm places and this promotes fungal growth. Also, you will not see any change in the nail and the fungus would be growing and infecting the whole nail. It can even spread to other toenail and you would notice this if your nails are covered in nail polish. (2)

More dangerously the cracks can be an opening for the bacteria and this can give rise to toe ulcers, cellulitis, and serious bacterial infections. If you have diabetes or an immunocompromised state then it will be really difficult to treat ulcers and infections and you can even lose your toe or foot. Also, untreated toenail fungal infections can damage your nails permanently. Therefore, applying nail polish to cover the fungal infection is not what you should do; get medical advice as soon as possible. Do not apply nail polish during the time of treatment.

If you are someone who had a fungal toenail infection and if it is cured now, there is a high chance of recurrence if you do not follow preventive strategies. Having nail polish for a long time can increase the risk of recurrence. Therefore, after applying remove it after a few days without keeping it for a long time. Then reapply again when needed. (2)

The organisms that cause fungal infections are:

  • Dermatophytes are the commonest this include Epidermophyton, Microsporum, and Trichophyton species.
  • The dermatophyte Trichophyton rubrum – it is the commonest organism to cause fungal toenail infection. This dermatophyte gives rise to distal lateral subungual onychomycosis and proximal subungual onychomycosis.
  • The dermatophyte Trichophyton mentagrophytes is rare. It causes white superficial onychomycosis. (1)
  • Candida onychomycosis account for about 8% of the cases
  • Molds also cause 2% of nail fungal infections

It is really difficult to treat fungal nail infections and it takes a long time for the complete cure. Even after cure, the recurrence rate is quite high. Therefore, prevention is the best method to reduce the prevalence of fungal nail infections. Education about the disease, risk factors and how to avoid those play an important role in the prevention.

Toenail infections are quite common, most fungal infections involve the toe at first. It is rather difficult to treat toenail infections as the toenails grow at a very slow speed. Usually, the fungal infection starts off at the front or on the sides of the toenail; it can rarely start from the base of the nail. The nail will be discolored (white patches or brownish or greenish areas), the nail will be thick or thin, brittle and easily break off and with the time you see that the nail is slowly removing from the skin and debris might be accumulated under the nail.

Summary

When you have toenail/s fungal infections do not wear nail polish. It contains acrylic and that prevents the moisture evaporating from the nail and it also prevents the sunlight from reaching the nail bed making it a darker place. Fungus loves dark, warm places and this promotes fungal growth. Do not apply nail polish during the time of treatment. Having nail polish for a long time can increase the risk of fungal nail infections and recurrence.

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