How Can You Avoid Getting Nail Fungus?

Most people take their fingernails and toenails for granted and are not overly concerned with their condition unless they contract a nail fungus. Onychomycosis, the medical term for a nail fungus, may cause nails to become extremely unattractive and sometimes cause a foul-smelling odor. Even though the fungus can occur in fingernails, it is more likely to affect toenails. Nails with a fungus infection become thickened, discolored, brittle, and may appear distorted. The fungus infection may be present in only one nail or it can affect several nails at the same time. Sometimes this condition may become painful and require treatment, especially if it spreads and infects the areas between the toes. Athlete's foot is probably the most serious nail fungus. Dermatologists report that even though the tendency for contracting a nail fungus may be an inherited trait in some people, there are ways to prevent and treat these infections.

How Do People Get Nail Fungus?

Fungus is a survivor that can be found almost anywhere in the world. It flourishes and grows in a warm and moist environment. Because it can survive indefinitely in a contained environment with little light or ventilation, people who frequent locker rooms or public showers or restrooms in their bare feet are highly susceptible to contracting a fungus infection. It is extremely contagious and easily spread from one person to another. It can enter the body through small, almost invisible cuts in the skin. It attacks the nail bed and enters through the tiny space between it and the nail. A nail fungus thrives under certain conditions and can be found in many different environments.

  • It is easy to get toenail fungus in swimming pools, by walking in bare feet in locker rooms or public restrooms, or by using towels used by someone with a fungus.
  • Sneakers and athletic shoes are almost airtight and cause feet to sweat. This creates the perfect environment for fungus to grow. The fungus can stay inside the shoe and cause reinfection with every wear.
  • Salons that offer manicures and pedicures are required by law to sanitize their instruments to prevent the spread of fungus from one patron to another. It is important to choose a professional nail salon where instruments and tools are wiped down with alcohol and sterilized.
  • Several health conditions including diabetes and circulation problems increase the risk of contracting a fungal infection. Poor circulation and age-related problems may contribute to being vulnerable to fungal infections.

Ways to Avoid Nail Fungus

There are several easy ways to avoid getting a nail fungus by being aware of where a nail fungus is most likely to exist and taking proactive steps to prevent being infected.

  • Never walk in a locker room or public restroom without wearing shoes. Fungus can be lurking on a damp floor or especially in a shower that is used by other people.
  • Because fungus needs a warm and moist environment to grow, toes must be kept dry by wearing nylon, wool, or polyester socks. Avoid cotton socks that cause feet to sweat.
  • Keep toenails cut short and only use a sanitized clipper to trim nails. Always cut the nail straight across and not at an angle. Long toenails can harbor a moist environment that is vulnerable to fungus infestation.

  • Proper nail hygiene includes thoroughly washing and moisturizing feet and toenails every day. It is easier to avoid toenail fungus if feet are kept clean and moisturized. Sweaty feet should be washed and dried more often.
  • Keep fingernails and toenails natural by avoiding nail polish or other nail ornaments that are so popular. Clean, natural nails are much less likely to become infected by a fungus.
  • Stay clear of artificial fingernails. Even though many women feel that they make the nails more beautiful and appealing, there is a downside to them. Artificial fingernails tend to add additional moisture to the nails causing them to be more susceptible to the growth of fungus in the nail. Skip the nail polish and always choose a licensed and regulated salon that undergoes periodic health inspections.

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This article should not be considered as medical advice. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional advice from a certified doctor or other qualified healthcare provider. Always speak with a doctor before starting, stopping, or changing any prescribed care or treatment plan. provides this reading material as a helpful resource, but it should never be a substitute for professional medical advice, care, diagnosis or treatment from a medical physician, a certified personal trainer, a therapist, a dietitian, or a nutritionist. If in a medical emergency, call a doctor or dial 911 immediately.