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Frequently asked questions

about toenail fungus

Toenail fungus is an infection that lives beneath the nail plate. Without treatment, it can spread to other nails on the hands and feet, cause permanent damage to the nail plate, and aggravate existing foot conditions.

Toenail fungus is caused by the same kind of infectious fungi that cause athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm.

Yes, toenail fungus can occur on the fingers as well as the toes.

The signs of toenail fungus include:

  • Separation of the nail from the nail bed
  • Debris under the nail
  • Change in nail color (usually yellow, non-transparent white, or brown)
  • Partial or complete destruction of the nail
  • Reddened, swollen, and tender nail bed

No. In fact, without treatment, toenail fungus is likely to spread and cause complications, like destruction of the nail, that can take time to reverse.

Yes. Toenail fungus can spread not only to other nails on your own toes and fingers, but also to other members of your household. To reduce the risk of spreading, never share nail clippers or nail files. Also never walk barefoot around pools, spas, or locker rooms.

Yes. Certain conditions can make it easier for toenail fungus to take hold, including:

  • Existing or previous toe injuries
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Psoriasis
  • Genetic predisposition

You can help limit your exposure to toenail fungus by following a few simple guidelines to ensure good hygiene.

Be mindful of your shoes:

  • Use antifungal spray every day
  • Throw away old athletic shoes
  • Avoid footwear that cramps your toes

Maintain and protect your toenails:

  • Keep your nails trimmed and clean
  • Never share nail clippers or nail files
  • Do not walk barefoot around pools, spas, and locker rooms
  • Ask nail technicians to wash their basins with bleach before you use them

The amount of time it takes to treat toenail fungus depends on the type of treatment as well as the toenail that is infected. A toenail can take a year to regrow itself into a fungus-free state, while a fingernail will regrow itself in around 6 months.

It will take time before you begin to see visible results, so if you are in the middle of treatment and are concerned it isn’t working, do not stop. Give the treatment more time to do its job and talk to your doctor.

Yes, toenail fungus can be completely cured with your doctor’s help. Just remember that the process will take time and a commitment to the treatment plan your doctor creates. You should also know, however, that there is always a chance toenail fungus can come back. If this happens, do not worry. Just talk to your doctor about the next step.

If you are concerned that your case of toenail fungus is worse than others, don’t be. There are a few reasons why getting rid of toenail fungus can be so difficult. First, the toenail gives infection a place to hide. Plus, in order for the toenail fungus to go away, a totally new, fungus-free nail has to grow, and that can take up to one year or even longer. With patience and commitment to your treatment regimen, you can help promote clearance of the fungus.

Toenail fungus will only get worse — and possibly spread — if you don’t take steps to fight it. The good news is that if you start treatment early, you can help avoid complications like permanent nail damage, other painful infections, and foot ulcers.

Over-the-counter medications have not been studied in the same way prescription drugs are.

You should get your doctor’s opinion about the best way to deal with your toenail fungus infection. Doing so will help ensure you have the best chance of getting rid of your toenail fungus infection.

If you have had toenail fungus before, there is a good chance it may come back at some point. This can be due to many factors, including:

  • Frequent exposure to places where fungus thrives like pools and locker rooms
  • Other health conditions like diabetes, HIV, or poor circulation
  • Previous injury to your nail
  • The natural aging process

If your toenail fungus comes back, call your doctor right away, since ignoring it only gives it more time to cause damage.

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