Nail fungus, or onychomychosis, is caused by tiny, living microorganisms that live on dead skin tissue, and the answer to the question “Is nail fungus contagious?” [L1] is yes. The fungi can be transmitted from one person to another either through direct or indirect contact, and it spreads just as quickly as the flu. It can also spread from one of your own toenails to another, or from a toenail to a fingernail. The risk of contracting nail fungus is especially high in warm, moist areas where the fungi thrive, for example in swimming pools, public showers and locker rooms. Another way to contract nail fungus is by sharing personal items like towels, shoes or nail clippers with an infected person. It can also spread at nail salons through nail polish or instruments that have not been properly sterilized.
If you have symptoms of a nail fungal infection – for example discolored, brittle, distorted or thickened nails – it is quite possible that you got the infection from somebody else, and it is important that you maintain proper hygiene to keep it from spreading to others. Take these steps to manage the infection and reduce the risk of transmitting it to others:
- Avoid walking barefoot around the house or in public places
- Do not share your shoes with other people
- Change shoes and socks frequently
- Dry feet thoroughly after showering
- Allow your feet to air dry as much as possible
- Apply a topical fungal nail treatment, such as Naloc, directly on the infected nails
Onychomychosis can infect people of all ages and ethnicities, but athletes, swimmers, the elderly and people with certain diseases, such as diabetes and psoriasis, are more likely to contract it than a healthy person. It is not completely clear why some people are more susceptible to fungal nail infections than others, but the risk of infection is likely linked to a weakened immune system.