How to Prevent Fungal Nail Infection or Reinfection

You can find plenty of information on how to TREAT fugnal infections of the toenails, but little on how to PREVENT the infection. This page will do that for you.

If you are trying to treat nail fungus, read our Complete Guide to Toenail Fungus Treatment.

Who Should Work at Preventing Toenail Fungus Infection?

There are three groups of people that should put in extra effort to prevent fungal infections:

  • You live with someone with a nail fungus.  If you share living quarters with someone who has either nail fungus or athlete’s foot, you are more prone to catching the infection yourself.
  • You have had a fungal infection in the past.  Even if laser or oral treatment for your fungal nail have been effective, you must be very diligent to prevent your toenails from becoming reinfected. There is at least a 50% reinfection rate if you do not follow these instructions.  If your nails have become infected once with fungus, it is a sign that you are prone to this infection.
  • You spend time in gyms and locker rooms. If you spend time in places where people walk barefoot you are more prone to catching the fungus yourself.

10-Step Plan to Prevent Fungal Nail Infection or Reinfection

Do not wear the same shoes two days in a row

Fungus loves the warm, moist and dark environment of shoes. So you need to do everything you can to prevent fungus from getting hold in your shoes.

Never wear your shoes two days in a row. Let your shoes dry out for a day in-between. 

Use an Ultraviot Light Shoe Sanitizer

Use an shoe sanitizer like the Sterishoe UV Shoe Sanitizer to kill fungus in your shoes using ultraviolet light (UVC). sterishoe 2There are some very good studies that show that UV light treatment is probably the best method to kill fungus in shoes.

This new in 2015 version of the Sterishoe works faster than the old version – only a 15 minute treatment is needed. It also includes a fan to dry the shoes.

Studies show that a single treatment destroys up to 99.9% of the microorganisms in shoes, including bacteria and fungi that cause foot odor, toenail fungus and athlete’s foot. You can get the sterishoe UV shoe sanitizer cleaner here.

Use the Sterishoe at least weekly on any shoes you wore that week. 

Use Anti-Fungal Spray in Your Shoeslotrimin

Especially, if you are not using the ultravilet shoe sanitizer, use an anti-fungal spray like Lotrimin spray in your shoes after each time you wear a pair of shoes.

Lotrimin is made to spray on the skin but it is also good to spray inside shoes to help kill fungus.

It’s not a bad idea to use both the Sterishoe and the Lotrimin spray. Killing the fungus in your shoes is by far the most important thing you can do to prevent reinfection. 

Use anti-fungal spray in your shoes each time you wear them.

Use Anti-fungal Powder in Your Shoesmedline antifungal powder

Our favorite is Medline Remedy Antifungal Powder.

Put anti-fungal powder in your shoes a couple of times per week.

Use Anti-fungal Medication on Your Toenailsanti fungal solution for toenails

If you don’t have a prescription anti-fungal lacquer, use an OTC topical anti-fungal medication on your toenails daily.  We provide our patients with a prescription for ciclopirox or Jublia nail lacquer. Learn more about topical treatments for nail fungus in our Complete Guide to Toenail Fungus Treatment.

For a good OTC choice try Fungi-nail. It is not as effective as the prescription medication, but the active ingredient, Undecyclenic Acid, is as good or better than other OTC anti-fungal nail treatments.

Use prescription (preferred) or OTC anti-fungal solution on your nails 2 – 3 times per week.

Use Anti-fungal Medication on Your Feet

There is a tremendous amount of cross infection of fungus between nails and skin and between skin and nails. The same fungus that infects the toenails also causes athlete’s foot. So it is important to treat the skin of your feet also.

A good anti-fungal for your skin is Terbinafine Hydrochloride cream (trade name Lamisil).

If you have active Athlete’s Foot, then use it daily for 3 weeks. For prevention, use it a couple times each week.

Use Anti-fungal Nail Polish

For women who like nail polish, we recommend you use polish with anti-fungal properties like Nuwave Anti-fungal Nail Polish

You should put on the topical anti-fungal listed above first and then put this polish on top of that.

Don’t Go Barefoot

If you share a home with someone with Athlete’s Foot or toenail fungus, or you frequent a gym, use flip-flops or slippers to protect your feet. Have a pair to wear in the shower too.

We recommend Vionic sandals more than any other brand. There is nothing special in how they protect you from fungus, they just have great arch support to help prevent pain from plantar fasciitis, bunions and other foot problems. So if you have any foot problems other than fungus consider an arch support sandal like Vionic.  

To protect your feet from fungus in the shower, any shower shoe will do. Here are some inexpensive shower shoes that range from about $6 on up.

Don’t go barefoot in areas that are likely to be infected with fungus.

Wear Socks with Anti-Fungal Fibers

Juzo Silver Sole Sock

Wear moisture-wicking socks with anti-fungal properties. We recommend Xstatic socks which not only wicks moisture but contains silver fibers that can help kill fungus.

Wash and Dry Your Socks on Hot

Since you wear shoes on only one foot but socks on both feet, socks are the best way to spread fungus from one foot to the other.

Wash your socks in hot water and dry them on a hot dryer setting.

Wash White Socks with Bleach

Bleach is an excellent anti-fungal. Try a cap full of bleach in the wash when you wash your white socks. Obviously you would not want to do this with your colored socks.

Don’t Live with Toenail Fungus

If you have toenail fungus, read our Complete Guide to Toenail Fungus Treatment for a review of what current research shows to be the most effective treatments to cure fungal nail infections.

If you are in the Seattle area, contact us for an appointment. We will do everything possible to give you great looking nails and eliminate nail fungus forever.

Finally, if you are fungus free but are at risk for fungal nail infections, follow the instructions on this page.

Dr. Larry Huppin
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Dr. Larry Huppin

Podiatrist specializing in biomechanics at Foot & Ankle Center of Washington
Lawrence Z.Huppin, DPM is an internationally recognized lecturer and teacher on orthotic therapy and biomechanics.In his Seattle private practice his focus in on treatment of mechanical problems such as heel pain, bunions, ball of foot pain, athletic injuries and children’s foot conditions.In addition he specializes in toenail problems including ingrown and fungal toenail conditions. He is always focused on helping patients avoid surgery if at all possible and keeping your medical costs as low as possible.
Dr. Larry Huppin
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3 thoughts on “How to Prevent Toenail Fungus Infection

  1. Dear dr Lupin
    I live in Australia, and 30 years ago contracted toenail fungus in a shower whilst on holiday.
    I have tried so many things to get rid of it, but to no avail. I have had the Lamisil tablets and cream which made me really ill but i still took them – no change. Ive had laser treatments – no change. Ive even in desperation used peroxide – no change. Ive used vicks ointment, zeta clear, tee tree oil, but nothing – what else can i do, im desperate. I tripped and broke my ankle last year and just about ripped my nail off my big toe so that is now only half attached but wont fall off, and its now growing so its ok but still has fungus.
    Please help

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