Is Toenail Fungus Contagious?

At first blush you may think toenail fungus is more of a cosmetic issue than an urgent concern, until winter turns to spring and you find the perfect pair of trendy sandals. You look down at your feet and notice your toenails look discolored. Now what?

Three quick questions no doubt will come to mind. How do I get rid of this? How did I get it in the first place? And is it contagious? Dr. Jarna Rathod-Bhatt and Dr. Rahul Bhatt, our skilled podiatrists at Apple Podiatry Group, are here to explain annoying toenail fungus and to help you get back to clearer, healthy nails as soon as possible.

Toenail fungus explained

Toenail fungus, also called onychomycosis, is a fairly common infection. In fact, an estimated 20% of the population experiences toenail fungus. As you get older your chances of getting it increase. An astounding 3 out of 4 of people over 60 years old develop toenail fungus, and men get it more often than women.

Toenail fungus is contagious, and you can pick it up by walking barefoot in moist, warm environments like showers, saunas, or locker rooms. Other risk factors for getting toenail fungus include having athlete’s foot or having medical conditions that make you more vulnerable to infections, such as diabetes, poor circulation, or autoimmune problems.

Spreads mostly through direct contact

The infection can spread or transfer between family members in a household if you’re sharing towels or using the same shower. It will also spread from one of your own toenails to another.

In households with someone who has a toenail fungus, making simple changes like using a different shower or wearing flip-flops in the shower will help to avoid direct contact with the fungus. In communal areas like hotel rooms, dorm showers, or public gyms or pools, try to avoid walking barefoot.

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 isn’t the time to try Aunt Betsy’s 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.

Laser treatment is available

Here at Apply Podiatry Group, we can usually provide same-day treatment for toenail fungus. Although we offer traditional treatment options like topical creams, oral antifungal drugs, and medical nail polish, we can treat particularly stubborn cases of toenail fungus with an advanced in-office laser procedure called PinPointe™ FootLaser®

PinPointe uses laser technology to penetrate the nail to effectively clear the infection festering underneath. Treatment sessions take about 30 minutes. Your clearer, healthier nails may be just a few short treatment sessions away.

You can also ask us about KeryFlex® nail-restoration treatments for covering your nail while it’s being treated.

If you’re experiencing toenail fungus symptoms and want to learn how our top-ranked podiatrists at Apple Podiatry Group can help, contact us for a toenail fungus exam. Book an appointment while you’re online now, or you can call one of our offices in Arlington or Irving, Texas.

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