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What Causes Fingernail Fungus?

What Causes Fingernail Fungus?

Fingernail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a common infection caused by fungal growth in the nail bed. Unfortunately, it’s contagious and can spread from one nail to another and even to other people.

What causes fingernail fungus? The condition is caused by various types of fungi that thrive in warm and moist environments. The microscopically tiny fungus enters the nail bed through small cuts, cracks, or separations between the nail and the nail bed.

For example, simply shaking hands with someone who has athlete’s foot or another fungal infection can pass along the fungi. Sharing clippers or a hand towel can do the same. The ease of transmission is one of the reasons why taking good care of your cuticles and skin is essential! Healthy skin is your first line of defense.

People with weakened immune systems, psoriasis, diabetes, and circulation problems are more susceptible to fingernail fungus but anyone can develop it.

Symptoms of Fingernail Fungus

What Causes Fingernail Fungus?

The symptoms of fingernail fungus include thickened, discolored, brittle nails, distorted nail shape, and sometimes even a foul odor.

If left untreated, the infection can spread to the surrounding skin, causing pain and inflammation. In severe cases, it can enter the bloodstream. A septic infection, or sepsis, can kill an adult human within hours. Therefore, it’s crucial to treat and clear up fingernail fungus as soon as possible.

Treatment Options for Fingernail Fungus

How do you get rid of fungus in your fingernails? Although there are some recognized home remedies for fingernail fungus, let’s talk about what a doctor may prescribe first.

The most common treatment options for fungal infections include oral antifungal medication, topical creams, and antifungal nail polish. In severe cases, a doctor may remove the infected nail.

The good news is that fingernails grow out within 6 months or less. That’s the maximum amount of time you have to deal with an infected nail – unless the new nail becomes infected as well. In other words, stick to the treatment you’re prescribed and hang in there.

While in treatment for nail fungus, it’s important to keep the nails clean, trimmed, and dry. That doesn’t signify that you can’t use hand cream or cuticle oil. It just means limiting your exposure to conditions that make the fungus thrive.

For instance, keep your manicure tools clean and don’t share them. Also, if you wear gloves for washing dishes, turn them inside out to dry completely.

You may have to forgo wearing nail tips, acrylics, press-on nails, and gel manicures for a few weeks to help your nails get enough air circulation. On the bright side, there are some topical antifungal treatments you can use alongside regular nail polish or acrylics.

Home Remedies for Fingernail Fungus

Besides prescription and over-the-counter antifungal medications, you can try using natural remedies like tea tree oil or peppermint essential oil diluted with coconut oil. All three are naturally antifungal and antimicrobial. A course of treatment might involve applying the oils up to 3 or 4 times per day.

If you’re frustrated with how brittle infected nails are, you might try applying a nail hardener. It takes a few weeks to turn things around, but it helps.

When to See a Doctor for Fingernail Fungus

If your nails are discolored, misshapen, ridged, or brittle, show them to your doctor. There are other health conditions that look like fingernail fungus infections but require a different type of treatment. One is psoriasis. Another can result from a recent viral infection. When in doubt, get medical advice. It’s never normal to have nails that are the wrong color, fragile, or damaged for no apparent reason.

Nail Care Tips to Prevent Fingernail Fungus

It is fundamental to follow proper nail hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the infection, such as keeping your nails dry, trimmed, and clean and not sharing manicure tools unless they are correctly sanitized.

Moreover, don’t cut your cuticles as that may create an entry point for the fungus. Instead, only push them back.

Should you injure your cuticles or fingertips, use an antimicrobial product like liquid styptic that speeds healing.

How to Sanitize Manicure Tools

You can prevent fingernail fungus by sanitizing tools like clippers and nail files. If they can be submerged in liquid, scrub them clean of debris. Then soak them in 70% rubbing alcohol for 5 minutes. Pull them out and let them air dry on a clean paper towel.

If you use emery boards or buffing blocks that can’t be sanitized, be sure to dispose of them and use a fresh set each time you do your nails. This gets expensive, of course, so it’s a good time to experiment with glass nail files and other durable solutions. Here’s where you can get one:

Manicure Travel Kit

Manicure Travel Kit


This cute little set contains everything you need to keep your nails and cuticles neat and tidy. The tools include different types of clippers and cuticle pushers as well as a glass nail file, scissors, tweezers, and so on. Everything can be sanitized, too.

Prevention of Fingernail Fungus

What are the best manicure practices to avoid fingernail fungus? Here are 3 easy tips:

First, if you get your nails done at the salon, ask how they protect you against fungal infections. They should have rules about sanitizing equipment and surfaces and not sharing tools between clients.

Second, have your own manicure tools at home. Keep them clean and replace ones that are dull, rusty, or difficult to use.

Third, depending on your lifestyle or employment, you may not have a choice on how much your hands are exposed to water. Nevertheless, do what you can to protect them in wet or unsanitary environments. Maintain healthy skin by applying moisturizer and cuticle oil each day.

24k Gold Nail & Cuticle Oil – Lavender

What Causes Fingernail Fungus?


This delicious, sweet-smelling oil absorbs quickly to leave nails, cuticles, and fingertips glowing with health. It contains lavender which is a natural antifungal. It also has hyaluronic acid, one of the best moisturizers in the world.


It’s possible to beat fingernail fungus! It’s caused by microbes that are too small for the naked eye to see. But you don’t have to be afraid of it if you protect yourself with sanitary practices and healthy nail hygiene.

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