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Frequently Asked Questions

Who gets fungal nail infections

Anyone can be infected with a nail fungal infection however, it is less common in children and our ageing population due to reduced blood circulation and weakening immune systems. More specifically, clients who have suffered from nail trauma or have medical conditions such as psoriasis or diabetes are at a greater risk of developing a fungal nail infection.

How do you prevent fungal nail infections

  • Don’t share nail care tools such as nail clippers or nail brushes

  • Avoid footwear that is too tight or does not allow for air circulation

  • Wear slippers or flip flops in high-risk areas like changing rooms, communal showers or public pools

  • Wash your hands and feet often, especially after sports

  • Take extra precaution if you have diabetes or psoriasis

  • Keep your feet clean and dry

Can you catch fungal nail infections from others?

Yes, fungal nail infections are contagious. We can catch fungal nail infections by sharing communal equipment such as nail clipper or files or walking barefoot around communal areas such as public swimming pools or communal shower complexes.

Why do I keep getting fungal nail infections while others never seem to get them?

Unfortunately, some people are simply more susceptible to getting fungal nail infections. People who have weaker immune systems or are genetic susceptibility to infections and expose themselves to places where fungi thrive such as communal swimming pools puts you at a greater risk.

Clients with other health conditions such as diabetes and psoriasis are also more susceptible to developing nail infections. Athletes who live in sports shoes and trainers expose their feet to warm, dark, damp environment for fungi to thrive.

Can I ignore a fungal nail infection if it’s not painful?

Fungal infections of the nails should be diagnosed by a Foot Foundation clinician as soon as possible. It is rare (although not impossible) to develop a serious complication from a fungal nail infection, however, ignoring a fungal nail can lead to permanent damage of the nail and cause spread to other nails or skin. Ignoring a nail for a long period of time can make it much harder to treat as the infection becomes more severe.

Why won’t the immune system kill the fungus?

Our immune systems will often try to kill off a fungal infection, however, our immune system is not perfect. Toenails in particular have a limited blood supply which can be more difficult for our immune system to detect, and therefore fight, a fungal infection.

What are the possible complications of fungal nail infections?

Over time, an ignored infection will progress (slowly) but will become more difficult to treat as the infection progresses throughout the nail and nail bed. The most common outcome of a progressed infection may lead to the nails become thicker making them difficult to cut, being painful to walk on or wear shoes.

Serious complications are rare and unlikely, however, in certain high risk population groups (such as diabetics and immunocompromised clients), if an infection causes a break in the surrounding skin, this can lead to an entry point for bacteria potentially leading to foot ulcers, osteomyelitis, cellulitis and gangrene.

Does it help to keep the nails short?

Yes, this certainly can help. Long nails provide more surface area for fungus to hide underneath and re-generate. Do not forget though, it is just as important to keep the nails dry! Especially the toenails as they are more likely to be in a moist environment all day.

How can I prevent fungal nail infections from coming back?

The first step is completing your treatment plan prescribed to you by your Foot Foundation clinician. This can ensure that the infection is cured before your treatment ends.

After treatment, we recommend

  • Frequent sock changes which helps keep your toes dry and clean.

  • Sterilising or throwing away shoes that were used when your nail was infected. At Foot Foundation, we can steriise your shoes for you.

  • If you suffer from athletes foot, this should be treated immediately when diagnosed to ensure that these fungal spores do not transfer onto the nails.

Finally, we strongly advised that jandals or sandals are worn when in public/communal areas such as swimming pools or showers to minimise the chances of re-infection.

Who should I see to treat my fungal nail?

Foot Foundation is your one-stop-shop for education, diagnosis and ongoing treatment of fungal nail infections. Our clinicians are up-to-date on the latest onychomycosis research and most up-to-date treatment options.


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