Is A Fungal Nail Infection Contagious?

29 January 2023

Our bodies are home to a variety of bacteria and fungus. Sounds delightful, right? But most of the time, we aren’t aware of them, and they don’t cause us any hassle. However, sometimes they do. This is often in the form of an infection and it’s at those times that it is beneficial to understand how the bacteria may be causing you problems, whether you can pass the issue to someone else, how it can be treated, and how to prevent it from occurring.

Fungal nails infection, also known as onychomycosis, is a condition in which a group of fungi known as dermophytes infect the nail, nail bed, and/or the area underneath the surface of the nail called the nail plate. The fungi are sustained by skin and keratin, which is a significant element of nails and hair. Subsequently, toenails, which are often hidden from the air, moist, and compressed, are ideal locations for these organisms to live.

Fungal nail infections can be unsightly and uncomfortable. It is important to seek medical help because once you have a fungal infection it doesn’t get better on its own. Our podiatrists at Capital Podiatry are experienced in treating these infections and are here to help you.

What Are The Symptoms Of Fungal Nail Infections

When dermophytes infect a toenail, a yellow, white, or brown discolouration is often the first indication. This generally begins at the top of the nail and moves downwards. The nail often becomes thicker, which makes cutting it tricky. It can become misshapen, brittle and flaky, may lift away from the nail bed, and can crumble or fall off. If the infection becomes deep rooted, pain can also become an issue. The fungi can take residence in other nails, expanding the issue.

Fungal nail infections can begin as a seemingly unobtrusive change in colour on a small area of a nail and develop into a long-lasting and persistent condition. Subsequently, treating it as early as possible is the best step towards a resolution.

How Do Fungal Nail Infections Spread?

This issue is a common one, and that is largely down to how easily it is to spread in the right circumstances. The organisms responsible for the infection are able to move to different people because of fungal spores. These travel through the air like dandelions and via direct transference.

Fungus thrives in dark, moist, and warm settings such as public changing rooms, swimming pools, and bathroom floors. Items such as socks, enclosed shoes, and bedsheets can also be the perfect place for fungus to live and can, in a catch 22 situation, accelerate an infection by creating the perfect dark, moist, and warm setting.

Situations in which fungus may target your toenails include:

  • Pedicures and nail care when performed with unsterilised, shared equipment such as nail files, clippers, and scissors.
  • The nail is damaged and becomes susceptible.
  • The immune system is compromised or medical conditions such as diabetes are present, increasing vulnerability to fungus and decreasing the ability to fight infections.
  • Having bare feet in shared spaces.

How Can You Minimise The Spread?

The fungal spores that are involved in nail infections are not visible to the naked eye and subsequently, it can seem impossible to avoid them. What’s more, fungal spores can remain dormant for up to three months before causing an issue.

However, there are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of coming into contact with them and to minimise the spread. These can include:

  • Wearing footwear, such as thongs, in communal and public areas.
  • Removing wet socks.
  • Allowing your shoes to air dry.
  • Using an antifungal agent to clean high-risk surfaces.
  • Washing bed sheets and socks with a dedicated antifungal laundry powder/liquid.
  • Treating fungal infections.
  • Taking care to keep your feet clean, exfoliated, moisturised, and dry.
  • Trimming nails to a safe length.
  • Ensuring nail salons utilise suitable hygienic practices and policies.

How Can Fungal Nail Infections Be Treated?

Fungal nail infections are notorious for being difficult to treat because treatment options often involve ineffective over the counter or natural remedies that are not strong enough or don’t target the problem correctly. However, our trained and experienced podiatrists in Canberra take evidence-based steps to treat the infection.

Alongside providing general nail and foot care to improve your nail health, we can also use the latest technology called Lunula Laser. This is a low-level ‘cold’ laser and is a painless and quick procedure with no downtime. We suggest having one treatment per week for four weeks, and then visiting us for a review after three months. We can also provide advice and guidance on how to avoid reinfection and how to protect the people around you from getting your infection. Capital Podiatry can also sterilise your shoes and nail care instruments.

Capital Podiatry Can Help Improve Your Fungal Nail Infection

Fungal nail infections can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, and unfortunately, are easily spread from person-to-person due fungal spores that make it a contagious condition. Thankfully, there are ways to minimise the risk of infection and treat the issue if it does arise.

Contact us today for an initial consultation in which we can assess your nails, provide guidance, and begin treatment.


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