Can Wearing Nail Polish Cause Toenail Fungus?
Whether you’re prone to toenail fungus, or you’ve never experienced it, there are typically dozens of questions to answer. Toenail fungus is far more common than most people realize. As a result, we tend to ignore the precautions until it’s too late.
Things we do in our everyday lives can allow us to become exposed to these types of infections. More often than not, we let it go too long. A question that seems to be popping up more is can wearing nail polish cause toenail fungus?
So, before we can understand the effects of nail polish on fungus, let’s ‘refresh’ our memories on how you get toenail fungus. Let’s understand how it can spread without proper care. You may find that nail polish can help, “if” you use the right type.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Can Wearing Nail Polish Cause Toenail Fungus?
- 1.1 Standard Polishes Make a Problem Worse
- 1.2 How Antifungal Nail Polishes Help
- 1.3 Medicated Polishes and Their Effectiveness
- 1.4 Most Popular OTC Antifungal Polishes
- 1.5 Steps to Take Before Applying Medicated Polish
Can Wearing Nail Polish Cause Toenail Fungus?
The basic cause is moisture getting trapped under the nail. It’s able to grow in a warm and dark environment. Granted, there are many different ways this can happen. At the root of the problem, that is what causes it to thrive. Fungus doesn’t need sunlight to survive, so toenails, even more often than fingernails, provide the ideal environment.
A small cut or abrasion can be enough for a fungus to work its way in, and start to spread quickly. It allows the fungus to create a separation between the nail, and the nail bed, which can create more room for growth and spreading. Think about getting a small cut on your arm, and something kept ‘prying’ it open more and more. The chances are, that cut would become more susceptible to infection, and toenail fungus works in the same way.
The first sign is typically a small dot on the toenail. So, if you think you may have been in any situation that was ideal for toenail fungus to attach and grow, be sure to keep checking your nails for any possible signs. The sooner you can identify and treat a nail fungus, the less likely it is to spread. It’s important to keep in mind that toenail fungus will never just ‘go away’ on its own.
Standard Polishes Make a Problem Worse
Nail polish can’t cause fungus, so why are they talked about together? Well, just because the polish itself doesn’t cause fungus, it can lead to keratin granulation.
Nail polish is a ‘sealant.’ By putting two coats on your toes, you’re locking in moisture. You’re creating a perfect seal around your toenail that doesn’t give the nail bed a chance to breath. This gives the fungus an even greater opportunity to spread, since you’re creating an even darker and moister environment.
Thankfully, you don’t have to go without polish. There are several medicated nail polishes that can help your nails to look pretty AND treat toenail fungus.
How Antifungal Nail Polishes Help
Nail polish may get a lot of attention, but perhaps not the right kind of attention. There are types of nail polish specifically designed to help deal with the effects of toenail fungus. That’s right – you can wear nail polish and not have to worry about toenail fungus at all.
These types of polish are typically either labeled as ‘medicated,’ or anti-fungal. They are designed to take care of the infection that has crept up into the nail beds and is starting to spread. But, they work especially well on toenail fungus, not only to help hide it, but of course, to heal it.
Medicated Polishes and Their Effectiveness
These polishes don’t make you sacrifice on what you like nail polish for in the first place – adding color and flare to your toenails. This Dr.’s Remedy polish, for example, comes in ‘Positive Pink,’ so no one will ever know it’s actually a treatment.
So, what makes a medicated nail polish different from a regular polish? The proof is in the ingredients. You’ll find vitamins C & E for nail strength, as well as tea tree oil, and amino acids from protein.
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that you’ll find in successful treatment options, so it’s a good sign that it’s effective. The ingredients combine to really bump up the antifungal and anti-infection factor in this polish. Plus, it’s a color that can work for just about anyone. But, it’s certainly not the only product out there, so don’t limit your search just yet.
Most Popular OTC Antifungal Polishes
This DaniPro Antifungal Infused Polish is another great option, utilizing antifungal undecylenic acid to help clear up toenail fungus. It’s real claim to fame is dealing with hardened, brittle, or even yellow nails as a result of polish or a fungus. And with plenty of great reviews to back it up, it’s sure to be a favorite. Plus, in this great red color, this polish should easily compare with any of your other favorite ‘standard’ polishes.
If you’re not necessarily looking for color, but still want that shine and healthy glow to come through on your toenails, there are polishes for that, as well. The Nu Wave Antifungal polish, for example, works as a topcoat. You can either use it on top of a colored medicated polish, or on its own for maximum results. It was created by several female podiatrists in the United States, and has excellent reviews as an antifungal treatment.
These polishes, especially the clear topcoat, can also work as a sort of ‘barrier’ for your toenails. If you wear sandals, or are in a public area that may put you more ‘at risk’ for infection, the polish can work as a protective layer.
Steps to Take Before Applying Medicated Polish
- To make the most of a medicated polish, especially if you choose to wear it on a regular basis, amplify the effects with an additional treatment. This could involve using an Omieria Labs treatment or a Rocky Mountain tea tree soak.
- Make sure your nails are clipped/filed relatively short. This will allow the polish to get into the nail bed, treating the problem faster. The best options are the Harperton Clipper Nail Set and KlipPro nail clippers.
- Before you apply the polish, there are a few steps you can take. First, try taking a warm bath or shower, so everything is clean. This will also help to soften up the nail bed and the nails. Then, try a foot soak for 10-15 minutes in warm water, and even a bit of apple cider vinegar. This will encourage the softening process and will allow the polish to be absorbed.
Reasons to Delay the Application of Polish
The medicated nail polishes will work wonders on their own. If you’ve got toenail fungus, sometimes any type of polish can draw attention to your feet. This happens when your nails are hard and brittle, and can sometimes appear ‘bumpy,’ so you don’t get an even coat. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to enhance the effect of the antifungal toenail polishes.
Any other treatment option for toenail fungus will only help the whole situation. There are plenty of over-the-counter remedies that have a lot of proven successes.
How Do Nail Polishes Really Affect Fungus?
We touched at the beginning that not all nail polishes are necessarily created equal. The problem arises with nail polish and toenail fungus when people are looking for a ‘quick fix.’ It’s easy to think that applying a layer or two of regular nail polish will hide the problem, or cover it up. Unfortunately, there are a few things that are problematic with that way of thinking.
First, as said before, sometimes toenail fungus allows the nail to become rigid, and even bumpy. In these instances, it’s nearly impossible to get a smooth coat of polish on the nail itself, which will likely draw even more attention to your toes. It’s best to avoid polish altogether (even perhaps medicated polish) if you have these deep ridges on your toes from the fungus. Instead, focus on treating toenail fungus first.
Do Polishes Spread the Fungus?
The real problem with nail polish is that it becomes a great catalyst for spreading the infection. Think about it – every time you swipe the polish on your nail to get an even coat, what happens next? You stick the wand/brush back into the bottle of polish, and repeat. This makes it easy to contaminate the entire bottle with the infection.
From that point forward, if the polish has been contaminated, it could cause problems. Even if your fungus eventually clears up, each time you use that particular nail polish, you could be spreading it. Medicated polishes are designed to fight back against this, since the ingredients work to kill the fungus no matter what, even if it has touched the wand or brush, or the polish in the bottle. Unfortunately, standard nail polishes don’t have that feature.
Don’t Use ‘Regular’ Polishes If You’re Prone to Fungus
If you’ve used regular nail polish, it’s a good idea to throw it out after your fungus has cleared up. There’s a chance nothing would happen from using it again, but it’s too big of a risk. It can be a tricky and stubborn thing to get rid of, so lessening your chances of it coming back is great idea.
When you don’t wear polish, you’re giving your nail beds a chance to breathe. That allows some fresh air to circulate. Again, medicated polishes are different – it’s great if you can get a bit of the medicated product into the nail bed. But, the same doesn’t go for regular polish. Instead, it works as a trap that will only continue to cause issues.
The Truth About Nail Polish and Toenail Fungus
Polish can actually work against your other efforts toward treating the fungus. Whether you’re using a home remedy, or something like an over-the-counter ointment, or even a prescribed treatment, that should be the main focus of your feet. More often than not, the polish will hinder the effects of the treatment.
Unless you’re able to use one of the medicated nail polishes, or one you can find on your own, it’s a good idea to stay away from polishing your toes. And, since this type of fungus can show up again unless it’s fully treated, try to refrain from polishing your toes for a few weeks after the fungus clears up, too, just to be safe.
It’s never fun to get some kind of unsightly fungus, especially on our feet. But, instead of trying to cover it up with a cosmetic product, focus on treatment instead. Once your toes are clear of any fungus or infection, you’ll be able to paint them and show them off.