Can Toenail Fungus Spread Through Nail Polish?
The answer here isn’t so clear cut. It’s kind of a yes, but maybe not in quite the way you might expect.
In terms of direct spread of the fungus from nail to nail (or person to person) through a bottle of polish, the chances of this happening are fairly low. A bottle of polish isn’t exactly the most conducive environment for fungal growth.
However, while the risk is low, it isn’t exactly zero, either. We would still strongly recommend you not share nail polish with any other person, whether at home or at the salon.
The bigger concern is that simply wearing nail polish in the first place can make your toenails more susceptible to fungal infection. Even a clear coat of polish can make nails more brittle, crumbly, and less breathable, especially if you keep your toenails painted for more than a week at a time. This makes you more likely to contract toenail fungus, especially if you already have athlete’s foot (which is caused by the same group of fungi) or a fungal infection on a different toenail.
Our final verdict, then, is that you should only use nail polish in moderation (no more than one week on, one week off, at the absolute most), and you should avoid sharing your polish with anyone else. If you want to be extra safe, you can get separate bottles for your infected and non-infected toes.
What About Other Nail Care Tools?
It’s a similar scenario here. As we wrote in last month’s blog, nail and skin care tools like toenail clippers, nail files, and the like should never be shared from person-to-person. We also recommend you use separate clippers for toenails and fingernails, and clean and sterilize your tools after use.
Check out last month’s blog for more in-depth tips on preventing toenail fungus!
Bonus tip: although it’s tempting to try to deal with a fungal toenail by attempting to trim it as short as possible, this is usually counterproductive. Cutting your nail too short usually means more trauma to the nail bed and a greater opportunity for further infection.