Can You Get a Toenail Fungal Infection from Sharing Nail Polish?

Posted by Dr. Jeffrey L. Adler

Oct 14, 2015 1:59:47 PM

pink_nail_polish_bottlesFor years, the consensus among beauty product users has been to keep your make-up to yourself. Although often shared among family members and close friends, it wouldn’t be recommended that you share your powder brush, mascara wand, or lipstick with a perfect stranger - otherwise you might also be sharing bacteria causing conditions like acne or cold sores. However, nail polish seems to be the exception to this rule. Couldn’t it spread a toenail fungal infection?

Cosmetic counters have eye shadows and lipsticks out for you to sample, but the average beauty product user knows better than to use the same cotton ball or Q-tip when sampling. However, people don’t think twice about sharing nail polish.

The first thing you’re told to do when visiting a nail salon for a manicure or pedicure is to pick your color – a color that many people have probably picked before. What if they had toenail fungus? Could it survive on the bristles of the wand or thrive inside the polish bottle?

 The quick answer is that it would be an extremely rare occurrence to get a toenail fungal infection from sharing nail polish with someone else who had toenail fungus, but it’s not impossible.

 According to Lacquerous, a service that allows you to wear the latest in red carpet and runway nail trends without splurging on a full bottle:

“The nail polish constituents include [a] number of organic solvents. The cocktail of ingredients are really tough to be resisted by microorganisms including bacteria or fungi. Ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, toluene, isopropyl alcohol, tosylamide/formaldehyde are organic solvents and in combination (cocktail) they are toughest to be resisted or tolerated by microorganisms. Therefore, growth/survival is not expected in nail polish.”

Contracting a toenail fungal infection from nail polish is the least of your worries. Since toenail fungus is contagious, you should be concerned about following best practices to prevent it.

Best Practices:

  • Wear flip-flops or shower shoes in public places, such as swimming pools or locker rooms
  • Wash your feet daily and keep them dry
  • Give your feet a chance to breathe throughout the day
  • Make sure your shoes fit well and aren’t too tight
  • Opt for socks made of synthetic material that keep moisture away from skin
  • Keep your toenails trimmed
  • Disinfect any tools before using them on your feet

If you do find yourself plagued by toenail fungus – and you’ll know because your toenails will be discolored, brittle, or you’ll experience loosening, thickening, or crumbling of the nail – don’t bother with topical, oral, or at-home treatments. Laser treatment is what will get rid of your toenail fungus.

The treatment works by shining a laser light beam onto the infected nail. It breaks through the surface of the nail and kills the fungal pathogens completely. Other treatments can’t get rid of the pathogens completely, so the fungus just returns.

Benefits of laser treatment include:

  • Minimal to no recovery time
  • No reported side effects
  • Safe, involving no blood, bandaging or anesthesia
  • Minimal to no pain
  • FDA approval
  • Requires only three 30-minute outpatient visits

Just like you generally don’t share your beauty products, you can protect yourself against toenail fungus best by not sharing shoes and being aware of what your bare feet are being exposed to. While you probably don’t have to worry about getting toenail fungus by trying the latest nail polish color, if you do notice any symptoms that look like a fungal infection, contact a qualified podiatrist.

If you’re visiting or living in the New York area, contact a podiatrist in NYC at Adler Footcare. We believe feet shouldn’t hurt and neither should their treatment.

If you’d like to learn more about toenail fungus laser treatment at Adler Footcare, download the free eBook below.

Why choose adler footcare for toenail fungus


Topics: Foot Care, toenail fungus