Frequently asked
questions

Who gets toenail fungus infection?

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Anyone is susceptible to toenail fungus infections. They are less common in children, but we become more susceptible to them as we age, due to weakening immune systems and diminished blood circulation. In particular, patients with diabetes or psoriasis are at greater risk.

How do you prevent toenail fungus infection?

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Fungi are everywhere, so you cannot completely eliminate the possibility of a fungal toenail infection. But these steps can reduce your chances of infection.

  • Don’t share nail care tools, such as nail clippers or nail brushes.
  • Avoid footwear that is too tight or does not allow for air circulation.
  • Wear slippers or flip flops in high-risk areas like communal showers, public pools, spas and saunas.
  • Wash your hands and feet often, especially after sports.
  • Take extra precautions if you have diabetes or psoriasis.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.

Can you catch toenail fungus from others?

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Yes, you can catch a toenail fungus infection from others. Sharing nail clippers or nail cosmetics can pass on a toenail infection. Similarly, public swimming pools are a common place to catch a toenail infection.

Why do I keep getting fungal toenail infections while others never seem to get them?

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There could be a number of reasons, but it is likely that you are naturally more susceptible to fungal nail infections. In addition to genetic susceptibility or a generally weaker immune system, you may be exposing yourself to environments where fungi thrive, like swimming pools or public gyms. Athletes are often exposed to conditions where fungal nail infection is more likely. Some patients with other medical conditions, such as diabetes, psoriasis or a weakened immune system, are more likely to be vulnerable to toenail fungus infections.

Can I ignore the toenail fungus if it's not painful?

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We do not recommend ignoring an infection. If you suspect that you have a toenail fungus infection, visit a doctor to have it properly diagnosed. Although serious complications arising from nail fungus infections are rare, it should be treated quickly to avoid permanent damage to the nail. Also, it’s better to treat a toenail infection early, before it becomes severe and harder to treat.

What are the possible complications of toenail fungus?

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Toenail fungus infection is a progressive condition and is contagious, so it will become increasingly difficult to treat. Serious complications are rare, except in patients who have weakened immune systems, for example, due to HIV infection/AIDS or the use of immunosuppressive medication. As the toenail fungus infection progresses and the toenail gets thicker, it could become painful to walk and wear shoes. This is why it’s important to consult a doctor at the first signs.

How effective are toenail fungus treatments?

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Most treatments for fungal infections are effective. However, it takes time to cure toenail fungus infections: it will not clear until a new healthy nail that is fungus-free replaces the damaged nail. Since nails grow slowly, it can take 12 to 18 months for toenails to become clear, even when the medication is working. The recurrence rate can be high with fungal nail infections (10% to 53%). If you get recurring fungal nail infections, it may be a sign that you are susceptible to them.

Does it help to keep your toenails short?

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Yes, it can help. Long toenails can provide more opportunity for nail fungus to hide underneath. It is just as important, however, to keep your feet clean and dry, which are more likely to be in a moist environment.

How can I prevent fungal toenail infections from coming back?

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You should fully complete the treatment regimen that your doctor has prescribed, making sure that the toenail infection is cured and your nail is clear before stopping treatment. Change your socks frequently to help keep your feet clean and dry. Shoes that were used when your nail was infected should be sterilized or thrown away. If you also suffer from athlete’s foot, it should be treated so that it does not spread to your toenails. Finally, wear sandals or flip flops at public gym showers and pools where fungi thrive so as to minimize your chances of coming into contact with fungi.

Can I use home remedies for toenail fungus?

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Many home remedies are not evidence-based medicine, meaning they have not been rigorously tested. We recommend that you visit a doctor first to get the treatment plan that suits you best. For starters, self-diagnosing can be risky. Other skin conditions appear similar to nail fungus, such as nail psoriasis, which requires a different treatment. Second, a doctor will help to recommend a treatment that's appropriate for the symptoms you are showing and accounts for the factors that are important for you.

How long do toenail fungus treatments take to work?

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The exact duration of treatment and the time it takes to see positive change will vary depending on the person, the treatment, and how advanced the fungal toenail infection is. Generally, the earlier you start treatment, the less time it will take to clear the infection. It’s important to understand that toenails require 12 to 18 months to grow out. Even after successful treatment of the fungus, it can take this long until the damaged nail grows out and is clipped and the appearance of the nail is restored.

What if I’m concerned about my toenails, but I’m not sure if they have toenail fungus?

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There are several good reasons to see a doctor if you are concerned about your toenails. First, a proper diagnosis rules out other conditions that can appear similar to toenail fungus, such as nail psoriasis, which requires a different treatment. Second, the earlier toenail fungus is identified, the quicker and more successful the treatment. Lastly, a doctor is your best ally in finding the appropriate treatment and lifestyle recommendations to fix your toenail concerns. You can start by using our symptoms checker tool to evaluate if you may have a toenail fungus infection.