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Do You Get Nail Infections from Nail Polish?

Wednesday, 10 May 2023 | 9:01 AM EST

  • microgenhealth


Is your nail care routine just to paint, enjoy, remove, and repeat? The cycle should be stopped for a beat in that case. When you take off your nail polish, look to see if there are any white spots, yellow discoloration, thickening, disfiguration, or thickened nails. It is not a good idea to cover it up with bright red nail polish so no one will notice, despite your temptation. You may just find toenail fungus lurking beneath your nail polish in the nails if you continue to do so. 

Continue reading to find responses to the most prevalent questions, concerns, and misconceptions regarding fungal nails.

What is Nail Fungus?

Nail fungus, generally called onychomycosis, is basically the development of contagious microorganisms in the cleft of your nails (frequently on and underneath toenails). Because fungus thrives in moist and dark environments, like the inside of your shoes and socks, toenail fungus is very common.

Nail fungus is also caused by a fungus that grows quickly in places where people walk barefoot the most, like public pools, locker rooms, showers, and even your own bathroom. As a result, the fungus spreads to people’s shoes and socks after they pick it up in one of these places.

Nail fungus can appear in multiple ways, including:

  • Nails become thick and raised
  • Whitish to brownish discoloration
  • Brittle, crumbly, ragged appearance
  • Distorted in shape
  • Dark color due to debris deposition under the nail
  • Foul smell
  • Pain and infection
  • Detachment of the affected part of the nail from the nail bed 

If any of these symptoms are present, it is essential to keep your polish bottles and nail care tools to yourself and not give them to anyone else. Additionally, you must ensure that those tools are thoroughly cleaned and seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent the fungus from spreading to other parts of your body.

Is Nail Fungus Contagious?

Yes, in a nutshell, is the answer. The skin between your toes, other nails, and even your groin and/or scalp can also become infected with nail fungus. In fact, nail fungus also leads to an athlete’s foot. Hence, it is essential to monitor symptoms and seek treatment as soon as you notice anything unusual.

Can Nail Fungus Really Spread Through Nail Polish?

Studies have demonstrated that fungus appears from wearing dark nail polish for too long without removing it.  The nail polish prevents nails from breathing and could trap moisture on the nail before painting. This is the ideal environment for fungus to thrive. The reason is that nail fungus can spread through nail polish and thrives in damp, dark environments. 

A fungal infection can result from nail polish that has been contaminated. Anyone who used it on already infected nails would have transferred the nail fungus to the brush and into the solution. Nail polish frequently seals the tissue and can also promote a fungus-friendly environment. So it isn’t uncommon for anyone to remove their nail polish and discover an infection has developed. 

However, the risk is low but not completely eliminated. Hence, sharing nail polish is not recommended! At the same time, if you get your nails done in a salon, it’s highly recommended to bring your own nail polish which you have only used before.

At the same time, apply nail polish in moderation. One week on, one week off, at most, is our golden rule. Overuse of nail polish leads to the basic preparation of breeding grounds for nail fungi.

For additional safety, purchase separate nail polishes for your infected and non-infected nails. After each use, you should also thoroughly disinfect all of your pedicure tools because nail care tools can certainly spread nail fungus if they are not properly sterilized.

What Should You Do if You Experience Changes in Nail Appearance?

As mentioned already, nail fungus can also spread to your shoes and skin, leading to an athlete’s foot, if left untreated. The earlier the detection, the higher the possibility of successful treatment. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it would be worth a visit to our office where we would detect the causative pathogen and co-infections, if any, via qPCR testing. All we need is just your nail scrapings.

Contact us today to book an appointment with Microgen Health. Let us help you get rid of nail fungus with timely detection! 

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