Can Toenail Fungus Spread to Your Other Toes?

Feb 7, 2023

If one of your toenails appears infected with fungal growth, you may wonder whether your other toes are at risk too. Toenail fungus infections are unpleasant at the best of times, causing thick, brittle, and yellowed toenails. In some cases, the whole toenail can peel off, causing pain and swelling. As such, you probably want to preserve at least a few healthy toenails.

The bad news is that fungus can spread to other toes – and very easily at that. To make matters worse, the fungus can even spread to your skin, fingernails, and loved ones!

So, why is toenail fungus so good at spreading, and how can you take control of your podiatric health? Well, that is what we are here for and we’re happy to help you!

Why Does Toenail Fungus Spread so Easily?

Toenail infections are caused by a type of fungus known as a dermophyte. Dermophytes feed on keratin – a protein found in skin, hair, and nails – and cause a range of other conditions, such as athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is one way a dermatophyte infection can show up on your skin. The fungi that are causing cracked, itchy and raw skin are the same ones that can cause your fungal toenails.

In short, dermophytes aren’t too fussy about where they grow as long as they have access to keratin. The harder, tougher composition of the toenail also provides them with good protection, which is why getting rid of toenail fungus can often be a challenge.

Unfortunately, this means people with untreated athlete’s foot may develop fungal toenail infections and vice versa. If the skin around your feet and toenails is weak, cracked, and frequently exposed to moisture, the fungus is more likely to thrive and spread. 

And naturally, if the fungus can travel between your own nails and skin, it can travel from your nails to someone else’s skin or nails, too. It is not the most contagious condition in the world but, given the right circumstances, transmission can happen. And do you want to be the one blamed for passing on a fungus to a loved one? 

No. You don’t want that. So what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones?

toenail fungus spread

Tips to Prevent the Spread of Toenail Fungus

If you’re unfortunate enough to have a toenail fungus infection, there are many simple things you can do to greatly limit the chances of transmitting the fungus to someone else and help keep it from spreading further on yourself as well.

Be Courteous with Toenail Clippers

Don’t share your toenail clippers! If you have toenail fungus, you’ll probably want to clip your unsightly toenails. However, the fungus will easily stick to the surface of your clippers and could infect other toenails or anyone else who uses them. Don’t even let your nail clippers mingle with other clippers or tools in caring for your nails.

Additionally, never use your toenail clippers on your fingernails. Not only can you easily transmit the fungus from your toenails to your fingernails that way, but actual toenail clippers are typically too big for the job. Use dedicated fingernail clippers instead.

It also doesn’t hurt to periodically clean and sterilize your clippers. You can soak them in rubbing alcohol for 30 minutes, and/or scrub them with an old toothbrush using warm water and dish soap. Make sure to thoroughly dry them off afterward with a clean paper towel to prevent rusting.

Cover Your Feet in High-Traffic Areas

Fungus thrives in humid public spaces such as pools, gyms, and locker rooms – especially if people walk around barefoot. Protect yourself by wearing footwear that covers your feet, which can also protect you from the virus that causes plantar warts.

Much is said about protecting your feet from picking up fungi in these places, but it is equally helpful for those who already have them to wear protection as well. Wearing aqua socks or shower shoes that cover your nails will help limit any potential for contamination.

Keep Shoes Dry (and To Yourself)

Locker rooms aren’t the only places that have favorable conditions for fungus. Shoes can fit the bill quite well, too!

Fungi thrive in damp environments, so it’s a good idea to air out your shoes regularly. If you’re prone to sweating, you may want to invest in a shoe dryer and remember to wash your shoes regularly. 

Letting shoes dry out is a good way to keep fungus from living inside of them. One of the best ways to do this is by switching between your shoes every day, giving your previous pair at least 24 hours to dry before wearing them again.

Putting some anti-fungal powder or spray in your shoes while they dry off is also a pretty good idea. Just don’t go overboard and dump so much powder into your shoes that it makes your feet slide around within them

Treat Your Toenail Fungus with Laser Therapy

Treating toenail fungus with laser therapy is quick, painless, and highly effective. Plus, it’s free from side effects and provides an excellent option for treating medication-resistant fungus. Most people require a few quick treatments to eliminate the fungus, although our podiatrists will advise on the best course of action. 

Take Care of Your Toenail Fungus Now!

If you don’t want to worry about potentially spreading toenail fungus, the best thing you can do is get rid of it for good!

If you’re looking for a reliable podiatrist to treat your fungal toenail infection, look no further than Patel Podiatry. We’ll work with you to produce an effective treatment plan to suit your needs and restore your feet to their former glory!

Fungal toenail treatment is not an immediate process. It can be challenging, depending on how ingrained the fungus is, and it may take several months or longer to fully eradicate it. But the sooner you start attacking the fungus, the sooner you can greatly reduce or completely eliminate its presence.

It’s well worth having a consultation with us so we can take a look at the extent of your fungal infection and make our best recommendations for how you should move forward. We might suggest laser treatment, topical or oral antifungal medications, or even a combination of methods.

Contact either of our offices to schedule an appointment with us and take the first step toward confronting the fungus. We’ll be happy to see you!

Milford(203) 876-7736

Hamden(203) 288-4055