Is Toenail Fungus Contagious?

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Here are three common concerns for people suffering from toenail infections:

  • Is toenail fungus contagious?
  • Can it spread to other parts of my body?
  • Can I accidentally pass it on to somebody else?

The answer to all questions, unfortunately, is yes.

But the risks are nowhere near as high some might think.

Firstly, let’s address the main issue — the idea of ‘catching’ toenail fungus:

Fungus is Contagious

Yes, this much is true.

Most fungal infections are contagious in nature and can be passed from person-to-person, or person-to-environment-to-person.

Does that mean we should take extreme measures to avoid spreading a fungus infection — or getting it from somebody else?

Not necessarily.

First consider that for many people suffering from toenail fungus, the condition does not affect every toe. Some people may only have fungus on one toe, or they will have several that are completely unaffected.

Why is this?

If your other toes aren’t ‘catching’ the fungus, then what does that say for how contagious a toenail infection really is?

Likewise, toenail infections tend to be naturally contained by their location: behind the nail plate.

The infection is embedded and protected by a layer of nail, meaning — sorry guys — you don’t need to run away if you catch somebody walking towards you with toenail fungus. Chances are, you’re not going to catch it!

There are many different kinds of fungus, and some are known to be more contagious than others. The type of fungus that grows behind the nail plate isn’t known for spreading. It tends to stay local.

But yes, it is still contagious.

Can Toenail Fungus Spread?

The most common incidents of toenail infections being spread come from the fungus being passed from nail to nail on the same patient.

This isn’t guaranteed, but presence of fungus behind any nail increases the chances of the others catching it due to the close proximity of your toes.

In some cases, toenail fungus spreads and turn in to Athlete’s foot, an uncomfortable condition that affects the surrounding skin of the foot.

In rarer circumstances, fungus can spread to the genitals through the transfer of materials from putting on underwear (and pulling over the feet).

This is known as Jock Itch.

If you have a toenail infection, our advice is firstly: don’t panic.

While the idea of contagious toenail fungus is not pleasant, a few basic precautions can stop it from spreading, meanwhile there are plenty of treatments that can start attacking the fungus itself.

How to Avoid ‘Catching’ Toenail Fungus

We have published a detailed guide on what causes toenail fungus, as well as several scenarios where you have to watch out for its contagious nature, specifically: at gyms and in nail salons.

Locker room floors and pedicure shops are known as ‘hot beds’ for many conditions that affect the feet, including fungal infections.

While fungus is contagious and can spread from person to person, most practical examples of this happening can be averted through good foot hygiene and simple measures such as not sharing the same socks and shoes, not using the same nail accessories, and so forth.

Still, we can’t imagine there are many people who actively share socks.

And if you do, there are reasons why you should stop doing this beyond the prevention of toenail fungus — it is poor hygiene and bad for your feet.


The horror stories of ‘contagious toenail fungus’ spreading like crazy should be taken with a big old pinch of salt.

While there is scientific backing to prove that fungus can and does spread, the idea is far more contagious than the fungus itself.

Here’s the three steps to remember:

  1. Practice good foot hygiene
  2. Take preventative measures in environments where fungus is likely to be found
  3. Stop sharing socks and shoes!

Have you suffered from unusually contagious toenail fungus? How did you stop it from spreading?

Let us know your best advice.