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Nail polish and fungal nails, what should you pay attention to?

On my colleagues' pedicure social media, I came across a discussion about the transferability of fungi via nail polish and brushes. The alarming notion that fungal infections couldn't be transmitted through these tools because the gel polish used supposedly had antifungal properties, made me furrow my brows...


teennagels waar paddenstoelen op groeien

Some background information:


The medical community reports an increase in fungal infections, especially among individuals with weakened immune systems, posing a serious health risk. Because fungal infections are so difficult to treat, prevention is obviously better than cure. More about this will be discussed in another blog article.


Discussions around the transferability of fungi via nail polish and brushes are important to raise awareness about the potential risks and proper hygiene practices. It's essential to emphasize the importance of cleaning and disinfecting nail care tools regularly to reduce the risk of spreading fungal infections. Make sure your pedicure provider uses clean tools with each client: cleaned, desinfected and sterilised! If you only pay €20 for a pedicure, you can be sure the used tools are not sterilised. Additionally, understanding the limitations of certain products, such as nail polish claiming to have antifungal properties, is crucial for making informed decisions about nail care and hygiene.


So, nail polish and fungus. Some producers of nail care products mention on their packaging that the product contains an antifungal agent, such as Clotrimazole. However, these amounts are so minimal that the product is classified as cosmetics rather than medication, thus escaping stricter regulations. Ironically, this nail polish covers the affected part of a fungal nail, allowing the infection to continue without visible signs of deterioration.

nagel met schimmelinfectie
Onychomycosis

The question arises: is fungus transferable via nail polish and other related accessories?


The answer seems to depend on who you ask. Manufacturers and some beauty specialists or nail stylists claim that the risk is minimal but not entirely nonexistent. On the other hand, professional associations for podiatrists and specialized foot care providers believe it poses a real risk.


Research on the survival of fungi on materials in hospitals has shown that fungi can survive from one day to several weeks, with transfer to the hands of volunteers being common. These findings emphasize the importance of thorough disinfection and limiting contact, especially with the increasing threat of resistant fungal infections. Although nail polish is not an ideal environment for fungi, there is still a chance of contamination.


As a pedicurist, I advise my clients to thoroughly treat the infected nail during the winter time. It can often take up to one year for the big toe nail to be completely free of fungus.


I understand that events like spring parties, weddings, beach vacations, etc., call for beautiful nails, and in those cases, I recommend the following:


If you visit a pedicurist for nail polishing, consider bringing your own nail polish or purchasing an unopened bottle from the pedicurist. Avoiding gel polish on toenails is also a wise choice because it acts as a thick layer of plastic, under which an incipient fungal infection can thrive unseen. Did you know that nail polish on toenails can easily last for 6 weeks, especially when combined with base and top coats? If you still opt for gel polish, limit its use to vacations or special occasions. But above all, never share a bottle of nail polish or any other material that has come into contact with fungus. Caution remains the key to maintaining healthy nails.


If you have a fungal nail and want to conceal it because you want to wear beautiful sandals, try to remove the nail polish as soon as your event or vacation is over so you can continue the treatment. Covering it with plastic for as short a time as possible is my advice.


Have you heard about the laser treatment for a fungal nail? Read the blog about this procedure and then decide whether this is for you or not.



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