What Causes Nail Fungus? Overview and Causes

Nail fungus is the most contagious infection, which is diagnosed in 64% of all patients referring to dermatologists or mycologists. The reason for the prevalence of mycosis is that its spores are able to live in an environment without a carrier for several years. By touching the soil where pathogens are located, or by dipping your feet in a warm river, you can with 90% chance of catching the pathogens. However, this is not all ways of the spread of onychomycosis pathogens.

Fungal infection mechanism

In general, the infection is transmitted by contact. This may be the direct interaction of a healthy person with an infected person or touching his personal things (clothes, dishes, shoes, etc.).

Most often, onychomycosis begins on the toes. The foot is constantly in contact with the floor, on which fungal spores may be located for a long time. In addition, the lower limbs sweat more than the hands, namely, high humidity creates favorable conditions for the development of the disease.

Minor abrasions and cracks contribute to the penetration of the infection into the tissues. The fungus initially “settles” on the skin, but over time it turns out to be in the blood. However, the infection on the surface of the nail or even deep into its structure does not mean that the disease began. An illness can be bypassed by a person if he is in good health. The body itself will destroy the dangerous microorganisms and will not allow them to develop. But if the immunity is weak, the fungus will multiply rapidly and its symptoms will soon be visible.

One or several negative factors can contribute to weakening the immune system:

  • long-term use of drugs, especially antibiotics;
  • chronic diseases that are often exacerbated;
  • hormonal disorders;
  • thyroid disease;
  • ARVI;
  • postponed surgery;
  • childbirth and pregnancy.

Who is at risk for developing nail and skin fungus?

Often the fungus is transmitted sexually. In this case, people leading a promiscuous lifestyle are in danger. A woman can infect a man and vice versa. During coitus, the pathogen enters the mucous membranes of the genitalia, penetrates the epithelium, then enters the bloodstream, and spreads through the body, reaching the nails on the hands or feet. There it is fixed and begins to develop.

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Also at risk are those who regularly go to the pools, bathe in open water, rest on the sea, or is a frequenter of nightclubs.

Athletes also often suffer from fungal diseases. It is quite possible to become infected with mycosis in hot workshops, where there is always a high temperature and humidity level.


Manicure room at least production premises becomes a source of infection. People who do manicure need to be especially careful in this case.

The servicemen and miners are also at risk of contracting onychomycosis, as they have been wearing specialized shoes for a long time, causing increased foot sweating.

Where and how can catch pathogens

The easiest way to transfer a fungus is contact with an infected person. The transfer of pathogenic disputes occurs when you shake hands, embrace, welcome kiss and even if you accidentally touch your hands in public transport (for example, when transferring a ticket).

The process of infection is faster if there is damage in the places of contact with the carrier of mycosis. So the spores quickly penetrate into the tissue, and then with the bloodstream are spread through the internal organs and accumulate in the keratin.

Pool Infection

In places where there are many people, infection is carried out both directly, from person to person, and indirectly. In the second case, the transfer of the pathogen occurs through objects and things that contain spores on its surface.

One of the most favorable areas for infection is the pool. The disease can be caught even through the water. Spores of the fungus feel great in hot and cold liquid. The amount of chlorine contained in an artificial reservoir is not enough to destroy the pathogens of mycosis.

Another route of transmission in the pool is the floor. Spores fall on him from the nails and skin of the feet of an infected person. Increased moisture contributes to the rapid reproduction of the fungus. Despite the fact that the most positive conditions for the development of pathogenic microorganisms are created in the cavity of a tree, they can live in plastics, rubber and ceramics.

Not only the floor can be dangerous, but also doors, cabinets, towel hooks. These objects are a breeding ground for infection, with the same probability affecting both the skin and the nails on the hands or the feet.

Infection with fungus in the bath

There is nothing easier than to catch mycosis in the bath. There are a lot of items on which fungal spores can live for a long time, waiting for a suitable sacrifice.

Dangerous areas in this public place are:

  • wooden benches;
  • wet wooden floors with crevices and cracks
  • public bath towels;
  • cloth tracks;
  • door handles, buckets;
  • sun beds;
  • walls in the steam room.


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How can I get a fungus in a beauty salon

Manicure and pedicure can also cause mycosis. During these procedures, direct contact of the nail plates with infected scissors, nail files or brushes occurs. If the instrument is poorly processed, then there is a high probability that spores will instantly penetrate into the structure of keratin or soft tissue.

The infection can also be transmitted from the hands of the master, therefore, according to safety standards, the specialist should work only with gloves, and all tools are lubricated with alcohol beforehand and are processed in a special sterilizer.

Infection during shoe fitting

The fungus can live in insoles for several months. Especially microbes like leather goods. For this reason, infection can occur even while trying on a new shoe in a specialty store.

As a prevention, you can use a disinfecting gel. They are smeared with nails and skin immediately after going to the shoe store. Another option to protect yourself is to buy plastic socks or shoe covers that are put on your leg before trying on.


Both footwear and clothing may contain disputes. When infected tissue touches the skin of a healthy person, the pathogenic microflora passes to the skin, enters the blood and accumulates in the nails.

Infection through the soil and from animals

The environment is full of infections, including fungal infections. Microspores live in water, sand, on sunbeds. Infectious sand can be not only on the beach, but also in the sandbox. Therefore, it is important to monitor its condition, if the child often plays in it.

Infection can also be through the earth, stones. Fungi easily get from plants to plants, so skin mycosis can be obtained through unwashed fruit or vegetables. Nail fungus occurs after walking barefoot on the grass or the ground in the garden.

Often domestic animals become fungus carriers. Spores are found on wool and nails, feathers and shells, as well as pet skin. To prevent onychomycosis, pets are regularly bathed in medical shampoo. Cat toilet should be filled only with a special filler, as sand, as mentioned above, contains pathogenic microorganisms.

Infection at home

The house occupies the second line in the ranking of places where people most often become infected with nail fungus. If there is an infected in the family, then any thing can be dangerous in terms of transmission.


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In high concentrations, spores are localized on the following subjects:

  • socks of a sick relative;
  • his underwear;
  • towel, both personal and common;
  • shoes;
  • clothes;
  • bed;
  • floor;
  • carpets;
  • the bottom of the bath or shower.

As practice shows, the fungus moves from the older family member to the younger ones. But in some cases young children are the first to become infected.

How is fungus treated?

To be treated for mycosis should be comprehensive. Nails on the extremities smeared with anti-mycotic ointments, while simultaneously taking inside antifungal tablets. Also, patients are appointed folk remedies as a supplement.

To quickly remove the nail fungus on the legs or arms, we must not forget about personal hygiene. The clothes are regularly washed, the body is washed with an antibacterial gel, and the limbs are regularly soared in a solution with disinfectant properties.

Prevention of onychomycosis

If there is a person in the family who suffers from mycosis of the nails or skin, then the other members should closely monitor their health. If itching, burning, peeling of the skin, unpleasant smell from the palms and feet, stratification, yellowing and thickening of the nail plate, you should consult a doctor.

In order not to get onychomycosis, you must follow the simple rules of prevention:

  • Wipe hands and body exclusively with your own towel;
  • Wash clothes and underwear of a sick husband, wife or other relatives separately from things of healthy family members, and after washing, wipe the machine with a cloth moistened with disinfectant solution;
  • Change bed linens regularly;
  • Every six months to buy new home slippers;
  • Clean floors weekly with a mild bleach solution. Instead, you can take a solution of chloramine (5-7%) or Formalin;
  • Do not use manicure tools of an infected person. For cosmetic nail polish this rule does not apply. Acetone, which is included in their composition, is not a favorable environment for the life of fungi. Because of this, it is unrealistic to get infected with fungus through nail polish.

It is also important to maintain the immune system:

  • regularly drink a course of vitamins;
  • eat right (eat meat, seafood, greens and fruits);
  • fully relax;
  • do sport;
  • spend every day in the fresh air (at least an hour).


The fungus is the disease that can be conquered without effort and expense only at the initial stage. Therefore, it is very important to identify its symptoms in time and begin therapy.

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