Is Toenail Fungus Contagious?

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Do you look at your feet every day? Really look at them? One of the most persistent and hard to cure nail problems usually begins as a small white or yellow spot under the tip of your nail – something you might not notice unless you check your toes carefully each day. Nail fungus is not only ugly and hard to get rid of but also very contagious, so you want to nip it in the bud before it has a chance to spread to family members and others you encounter.

The disease may begin as only a small spot, but as it spreads your nail can become dull, thick, brittle, crumbly and discolored. Sometimes it is also painful, so that walking and standing are uncomfortable. It seems to occur more often in men. The Global Nail Fungus Organization estimates that half of all men over 40 will contract it at some point, so taking steps to prevent it in the first place is extremely important. You can’t control your age, sex, or whether you have conditions like poor blood circulation, or and autoimmune disease that doesn’t allow you to fight infections. However, you can control the shoes you wear, the environments you inhabit, and your personal habits.

Toenail fungus is usually caused by one of a group of fungi called dermatophytes – the same type that causes athlete’s foot. Fungi grow best in places that are dark, warm and damp. You can see that shoes that don’t let your feet breathe are an ideal environment. It is good to have more than one pair of shoes, so you can let a pair dry out for 24 hours before wearing them again. Socks that wick moisture away from the feet also help. Be careful where you go barefoot. Public pools, showers, and saunas are prime breeding grounds, so wear foot protection if you use them. Wear socks around the house, too, so you don’t spread the infection to your housemates. Don’t share your personal nail clippers or files with others, and always wash your hands after touching your infected toes.

The most important thing to do at the first sign of toenail fungus is to contact Dr. Robert Parker at Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston. He can diagnose your problem and offer treatments including laser nail therapy, one of the newest, most effective and least invasive treatments for this disease. Call him today at (281) 497-2850, and get rid of your nail fungus for good!

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