If you have a fungal toenail infection, you’ll likely do whatever you can to cover it up. Many of us use toenail polish to hide a fungus. But could nail polish be making it worse?
Toenail fungus won’t necessarily be transferred through the polish itself. But polishing your nails could make the infection worse, and the brush, cap, etc., could spread the fungus to other toenails.
Nail polish contains harsh chemicals. While those words might not always sound safe or encouraging, they are a good thing in this instance. Many of the chemicals in nail polish make it more difficult for toenail fungus to spread to other nails.
But covering up your fungal infection with nail polish isn’t recommended either. Even if the infection isn’t transferred through the polish, it can spread in other ways and become much worse. You can also spread toenail fungus to other people, or get it from using someone else’s polish.
Covering it toenail fungus with polish isn’t a good option. It’s understandable that you want to hide the visible symptoms from others. But treating the fungal infection itself is the best thing you can do, and that includes letting your nails breathe without being covered by a suffocating polish.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Can You Get Toenail Fungus from Nail Polish?
- 2 How to Make Toenails Look Better with Fungus
- 3 Alternative Types of Toenail Polish
Can You Get Toenail Fungus from Nail Polish?
Does toenail fungus live in nail polish? Probably not. Due to the chemicals in the polish itself, it’s not an ideal environment for toenail fungus to live and grow.
Can toenail polish cause a fungus to spread to other nails? It can if you brush one nail after the next with the same infected brush. Fungal spores can be transferred from nail to nail that way.
Why is Toenail Polish Harmful?
Toenail polish on its own isn’t harmful. If you like to have perfectly polished toes, that’s understandable. But it’s more important to give your toenails time to breathe once in a while.
The problem with nail polish is that it creates a seal over your toenails. Toenail fungus occurs when moisture gets trapped underneath the nail. Because our toes are usually in warm, moist, dark environments (like shoes), we are creating an ideal setting for a fungus to grow and spread.
By adding nail polish to the top of your nails, you’re creating an even more welcoming environment for fungus. The polish blocks air from getting onto the nail and underneath it. That makes it easier for moisture to get trapped, and for a fungus to spread.
If you get a fungal infection, having nail polish on might make it harder to spot right away. It’s best to treat toenail fungus early. So, if you can’t see the earliest warning signs and symptoms, you could be making it harder for yourself to heal the problem later on.
Can Toenail Fungus Contaminate Nail Polish?
If you use nail polish while you have toenail fungus, it’s more likely that it will contaminate the tools you use to apply it. It spreads quickly and easily. Each time you use the same nail brush, you could be spreading the condition to other toes. Perhaps you share your polishes with roommates?
The nail brush dipping back into the polish could cause the infection to contaminate things. But it’s more likely that the application of the polish with the same brush is the culprit, not the polish itself.
Can a Professional Pedicure Cause a Fungal Infection?
You might think you’re safe when you get a professional pedicure. But even if your pedicure doesn’t include polish, it isn’t always a good idea to get this treatment.
Again, the most significant issue with toenail fungus is how quickly and easily it can spread. Not only can it spread to other toes and areas of your body, but other people.
Going to a nail salon can be a treat. Everyone likes to get pampered and leave with their nails looking beautiful. Unfortunately, it can sometimes lead to significant problems for your toenails.
If you happen to go to a salon that hasn’t cleaned their tools, you could be putting yourself at risk. They may have worked on someone with a fungal infection. If those same tools are used without being thoroughly sterilized, the fungal spores could be spread to your nails.
How to Make Toenails Look Better with Fungus
Anyone with a fungus will do whatever it takes to make their nails look more appealing. Toenail fungus can lead to unsightly symptoms. These include:
- Hard, thick nails
- Brittle, crumbling nails
- Foul odor
These symptoms can be embarrassing. So, it’s normal to want to cover them up or change the appearance somehow. If you don’t want to use toenail polish and risk contaminating other nails, there are other options.
1) Practice Good Nail Hygiene
One of the best ways to leave your nails looking good without nail polish is to make sure they are always clean and trimmed.
Letting your toenails grow too long, though, can make it easier for fungal spores to accumulate underneath. Keeping your nails clipped straight across will make it harder for a fungus to grow.
2) Give Your Feet Time to Breathe
Whether you have sweaty feet or you’re prone to fungus, one of the best ways to protect yourself and keep your toes healthy is to give them time to breathe. Go barefoot in your home.
If you need to change socks throughout the day, bring an extra pair with you. And always make sure you wear shoes that fit correctly. Shoes that are too tight can cause severe problems for your nails.
3) Healthy Diet and Nutrition
Healthy nails start with a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to give your nails the vitamins and minerals they need for growth.
Since nails are made up of keratin (a type of protein), you should also include plenty of lean proteins in your diet. This will help to strengthen your nails and leave them looking shiny and smooth.
Eating a healthy diet with immune-boosting foods will also help to fight off fungus. The stronger your immune system is, the easier it can be to treat a fungus from the inside out.
Alternative Types of Toenail Polish
Some companies have recognized that people with fungus want to be able to look and feel good about their toes. So, they have created nail polish that also works as a fungal infection treatment.
One of the most popular solutions is Dr.’s Remedy Enriched Nail Polish. It is the only polish with the American Podiatric Medical Association seal of approval.
As you might expect, the formula was developed by doctors. It’s designed to help treat fungus instead of making it worse. It comes in a variety of colors, and no one will be able to tell the difference between it and regular nail polish.
Antifungal nail polishes are becoming more popular as a means of hiding unsightly fungus symptoms. Be sure to choose an antifungal polish you can trust, with ingredients proven to heal fungal infections and symptoms.
When wearing even antifungal nail polish, you shouldn’t leave it on for weeks at a time without giving your nails a chance to breathe. The antifungal ingredients will help to treat the infection.
Can I Prevent Toenail Fungus When Painting My Nails?
Toenail fungus is never 100% preventable. There are too many factors that can cause it to spread and be picked up. But when you’re painting your nails, there are some precautions you can take.
- Never share nail polish with someone else. They could be in the early stages of toenail fungus and may not be aware of a problem. You could spread it to your nails with just one use.
- Make sure any nail tools you use at home are clean and sterilized. If you’ve had toenail fungus before, using the same nail tools can be risky if they aren’t properly cleaned.
- Give yourself time between each pedicure. If your nails have been painted for a week, remove the polish and wait a few days before covering them again. This will give your toenails time to breathe and help with any lingering moisture.
Treating Toenail Fungus the Right Way
Once a fungus has started to grow, it can take months for it to go away. The longer you wait to treat it, the harder it will be. So, covering it up with polish might seem like a sound option. Unfortunately, that will probably only make things worse.
The best thing you can do to hide the symptoms is to start treating toenail fungus without delay. It will not go away on its own. Continuing to cover up toenail fungus with polish won’t help.
There are various antifungal options. You can find an over-the-counter treatment or use a home remedy to get rid of the infection. If your toenail fungus doesn’t seem to be going away even with treatment, you may need to consult a podiatrist (foot doctor).
If you want to use nail polish while you have a fungus, you should use an antifungal polish. Avoid using regular nail polish if you currently have an infection or you’ve used it for an infection in the past. The tools used to apply the polish, or anything it touches can become infected.