How Does Toenail Fungus Spread?

toenail fungusPrevention is the best medicine. Knowing how toenail fungus spreads helps you prevent it.

You can take precautions once you understand some basics about this condition. Eliminating outbreaks is certainly not easy. But learning how the fungus spreads goes a long way.

Where Does Toenail Fungus Come From?

Fungi are tiny plant, like parasites, which are on your body, even if an infection isn’t present. There are a couple of fungi that tend to cause toenail infections. They feed off keratin, the protein that makes up our skin, hair, and nails. This means that toes tend to provide a tasty treat for these persistent parasites.

Ideal Environments for Fungus

Fungi thrive in dark and moist areas. Now think about your feet. Wearing unbreathable socks and shoes can create the perfect environment for fungi.

Public environments like showers allow the fungus to grow. All it takes is a small cut on your toe or foot and the fungus can cause an infection. Common places to pick up a toenail fungus include:

• Public Showers
• Swimming Pools
• Gym Locker Rooms

Keep Tools Clean

Fungus may also live on nail clippers, scissors, emery boards, and other grooming supplies. This is one of the reasons why it is so persistent. Contaminated tools can help the fungus spread to other nails. If you share your tools, the fungus can even spread between people. Disinfect your grooming tools before and after each use to prevent it from spreading.

Bad Habits

Biting and picking at nails can also lead to infections. First, creating damage within the nail bed can give fungus an easy entry point. At the same time, picking at nails can also spread them from toe to toe or even to your fingers. Biting your fingernails can even spread the infection to your mouth.

Spreading Beyond Nails

Itching and breaking open the skin with infected nails can cause it to spread to other parts of the body. This is especially true if those other parts tend to be dark and moist. A common example is when this infection spreads to the groin. When this happens, people commonly develop “jock itch.” If your skin breaks out in red or scaly patches that itch, chances are that the toenail fungus has spread to those areas.

Socks and Shoes

As mentioned before, unbreathable socks and tight shoes can allow toenail fungus to thrive. The infection can spread from these infected socks and shoes as well. Make sure you switch to a breathable pair of socks and shoes. Also practice good hygiene by washing socks every time you wear them. Some tips include:

• Moisture absorbing socks
• Change socks frequently
• Open toed shoes
• Wear flip flops in public showers
• Avoid going barefoot in public places


It can be easier for the fungus to spread, if you have a weakened immune system. The infection can lead to other complications. Diabetes is an example of an underlying condition that causes serious complications with toenail fungus. If this is the case, see a doctor immediately.


Toenail fungus is especially difficult to treat. While there are home remedies and over the counter medications, these rarely work. Consult with a specialist to have the fungus thoroughly treated and eliminated for good.

Prevent toenail fungus from spreading by understanding this condition. These parasites thrive in dark and moist environments. They can spread in specific public areas, such as gym locker rooms or public pools. Fungus also travels through grooming tools, biting or picking at infected nails, itching and breaking the skin, and wearing contaminated socks. There are ways to prevent toenail fungus.

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