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Is Toenail Fungus Contagious? Plus 5 Weird Ways It Spreads 

Learn more about how contagious a toenail fungus can be, including 5 ways that it can be spread to others.

Read on

So, you’re wondering if toenail fungus is contagious? The short answer is: definitely.

But, why is it contagious? And what are some ways you can catch this pesky fungus? 

In this article, we’ll answer these questions, plus offer some easy and effective ways to kill off toenail fungus. 

What is a toenail fungus infection?

A fungal infection is caused by an overgrowth of many different types of fungi (yeasts or molds). In warm and moist environments, the fungi can thrive and quickly overpopulate. 

A toenail fungus infection might cause:

  • Discoloration of the nail (yellow, brown, or white)
  • Warped nails
  • Thickened nails
  • Brittle and easily cracked nails
  • The nail can separate from the nail bed, leaving space underneath the nail. 
  • There might also be an odor to the nails 

The fungus is contagious and may spread to the skin between the toes and other parts of the foot. This is commonly known as athlete’s foot.

Fungal infections can also happen in your groin area (jock itch) and on your scalp. 

Why do toenail fungus infections happen?

Dermatophytes, belonging to the mold group of fungi, are the most common culprits for toenail fungal infections

An infection can happen because of small tears in the skin or the toenail which causes a vulnerability where these fungi can enter and set up shop, so to speak. 

Nail fungus infections can affect the fingernails but it’s most commonly seen in toenails. This is likely because of the warm, and moist conditions of closed-toed shoes. 

Learn More: How To Tell If Your Toenail Fungus Is Dying Off: 4 Signs

Is toenail fungus contagious? 

Yes. Toenail fungus is both very contagious, and hard to treat

The fungus responsible for toenail fungus infections is easily spread through direct or indirect contact. 

Studies have shown that toenail fungus and athlete’s foot can spread among family members in close proximity. 

Because it’s so contagious, toenail fungus infections are also very common. Experts estimate that 1 in 10 people have toenail fungus. 

5 weird ways you can catch this contagious nail fungus 

Ever been to a gym locker room and seen folks showering with sandals on? 

Well, you should really follow suit, because there could be a whole host of contagious little fungi hanging out on the moist public shower floor. 

Also Read: How To Get Rid of Toenail Fungus: 6 Tips To Help Keep Toes Clean and Clear

Here are  5 places and scenarios where you might catch a toenail fungus: 

  1. You could catch a toenail fungus from being barefoot in a communal shower (hotel showers, public pools, gym locker rooms, dorm showers, campground showers). This is a very common way to catch toenail fungus. 
  1. Wearing used shoes such as shoes from the thrift store, or even hand-me-down football cleats. 
  1. You could catch a nail fungus from a nail salon as some may not properly sanitize equipment in between clients. They might also cause small micro-tears in the nail, creating a vulnerability in the nail.
  1. Using shared personal items such as nail clippers, towels, socks. 
  1. Spa saunas or even hot tubs might pose a risk of contagious toenail fungal infection if someone who has the infection used it before you.

How to get rid of nail fungus

Toenail fungus is notoriously difficult to treat

In order to be rid of the fungus, you’ll need the nail to fully grow out while treating it. And, nails grow slowly, so change can take time. 

A fungus is not like a bacteria that can be washed away with some soap and water, or treated with antibiotics. A fungus infection will require an antifungal treatment and the growth of new healthy toenails.

3 common antifungal treatments:

1. Ketoconazole and Terbinafine are both antifungal medications used to treat fungal infections of the scalp, groin, feet, fingernails, and toenails. 

Strut Health uses both Ketoconazole and Terbinafine in our Strut Nail Formula.

With our prescription-only compound formula, these antifungal medications can penetrate deep into the nail. 

To see if this antifungal treatment is right for you, simply complete a questionnaire-based online doctor's consultation

If our doctors find it’s the right treatment for you, we’ll ship it right to your door. 

2. Antifungal (clear) nail polishes normally contain the ingredients like amorolfine or ciclopirox which stop the growth of the fungus. 

3. Oral antifungal medications like terbinafine, itraconazole, fluconazole may help, although these medications are not for everyone. 

Is toenail fungus contagious: Bottom line

Yes, toenail fungus is contagious. 

Toenail fungus can spread from person to person via direct or indirect contact. It can be contracted from shared infected surfaces. Remember, fungi like to hang out in dark, warm, and moist places.

Toenail fungus is incredibly common, so it’s best to use preventative measures to keep from catching these common fungi. 

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