Toenail fungus is quite a common occurrence. It is also known as onychomycosis. It is a fungal infection that begins usually as a white spot underneath your toenail. As it progresses, it may turn your toenail to some other colour, make it thickened and brittle. It may be painful at times.(2)
Is Toenail Fungus Contagious?
Toenail fungus can be contagious. The chance that you may get it from an infected friend after you have sipped on his drinks is rare, but it is a possibility that you may get it if you have a close enough association with him.(1)
It is always better to be safe than sorry and take preventive measures. These may include-
- Do not share shoes or socks with a person who is infected with toenail fungus.
- It is always a good idea to avoid other risk factors like walking without footwear in public shower places like swimming pool, shower rooms, gyms etc.
- If you get a nail injury it is better to treat it fast to avoid any chances of getting infected with a fungus.
- If you have diabetes, you should be extra careful with your feet.
- If you were previously suffering from athlete’s foot, you are more likely to get toenail fungus. Taking necessary precautions may help in keeping the infection at bay.
A weakened immunity system or blood circulation problems can make a toenail fungus worse. If you suffer from any such conditions, treating any nail problem on time is of utmost importance.(2)
Complications Of Toenail Fungus-
Toenail fungus if left untreated or in absence of correct treatment may grow and become a serious affair. It can become painful over time and may lead to a permanent damage, discoloration or distortion of the infected nail. At times, toenail fungus may spread from one toenail to another and sometimes even beyond, to the skin nearby and on the foot. This is more likely if your immune system is weak or compromised. Diabetes or circulatory disorders may be responsible for this.
Conditions like diabetes may reduce the blood circulation to the feet. This is a great risk factor for various infections, including a serious one known as cellulitis. In diabetics, even a minor injury can lead to a serious complication and toenail fungus is no exception to that. Hence, it is necessary to seek medical advice if you feel you are having toenail fungus and you also are diabetic.
Prevention Of Toenail Fungus-
Toenail fungus can be contagious, though the incidences are very rare. However, following certain measures and habits can help in preventing the infection and may also help in stopping the recurrent episodes of this infection. These measures may include-
- Making sure you wash hands and feet thoroughly. This is particularly important if you have encountered an infected toenail
- keep your nails moisturised to avoid dryness and cracks in the nails, which provide a ready path for the fungus to enter
- Clean your nail clippers with a disinfectant after each use
- Wear socks and footwear that absorb sweat or are breathable. Changing socks frequently in a day can also be an option
- Old shoes should be treated with a disinfectant or discarded
- Do not share your footwear with an infected person, or otherwise
- Protect your feet by wearing footwear in public shower areas like gyms, shower rooms, swimming pools etc.
- Choose sterilised instruments for procedures like manicure and pedicure in salon
- Avoid using nail enamels, nail polishes and artificial nails
Toenail fungus can be contagious. However, the chance of getting it from a friend just by a casual contact is quite rare. The possibility cannot be denied though, if there has been a close enough contact. It is always best to take precautions and avoid close contact with anyone who has been infected.
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