How do I proceed post nail fungus?
May 29, 2011 10:36 PM   Subscribe

GrossFilter: My nail fungus is almost cured. Yay! Now, should I toss my socks/shoes/nail polish?

Yes, you are not my doctor.

Answering that other toe nail question made me remember a question of mine. I'm not sure if this questions is worth paying the copay to ask my doctor, but I will if I have to.

Just finished a course of lamisil. It was sort of a pulse therapy over 6 months (took it for a week a month) so the entire nail (nearly) was able to grow out over the course of treatment. My worst nail is not quite clear at the tip, but my understanding is that my new nails were impregnated with the drug and what's left can't get reinfected over the next few months as it grows out all the way.

I have 55 bottles of nail polish (good stuff, too!) and more shoes than I care to admit. Socks, too, but I'm not as attached to those. Should I scrap them? I'd rather not risk reinfection, and I understand I'm at high risk for that, but at the same time, I am rather attached to all the nail-hiding polishes and flats I've collected over the years (um, basically my entire childhood. I'm pretty stoked this is gone!). Tell me, MeFi, how do I proceed from here? And do I wait until my nails are absolutely perfectly clear (as in, the point at which I get to have my first ever pedicure?)

I'll go see my doctor if I have to, but if anyone got any sort of reinfection-prevention tips or anything, that would be appreciated! The doctor who prescribed the meds mentioned using something topical occasionally but he didn't say what so I'm thinking maybe I'll have a pre-college physical with him (instead of my normal doctor) and ask then but in the meantime, I'd love your input.

(Bonus question: both my parents are infected as well, probably my fault, and don't have any intention of treating it. I will start wearing shower shoes, but do I need to stop going barefoot in the rest of the house, too?)
posted by R a c h e l to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
When my toenail fungus finally went away, my doctor recommended cleaning my shoes with an anti-fungal spray (like Tineacide), but said nothing about socks or nail polish. I wound up cleaning my beloved sock collection with a tea tree oil detergent because I was paranoid and believed that would help, and didn't wind up reinfected. I don't think nail polish bottles are an inviting environment for fungii; there's not much for them to grow on.
posted by lemonadeheretic at 10:46 PM on May 29, 2011

These really are questions for your doctor.

That said, my podiatrist, years ago, told me not to paint my toenails. She said they need to breathe. We compromised with, I can have them painted for a week, but then I'm supposed to take it off for at least a week.

Regarding shoes - if anyone else has a habit of slipping into your shoes to grab the mail, that's the big thing to out a stop to. Otherwise, ask your doctor what sorts of products s/he trusts (if any) to treat your shoes.
posted by bilabial at 10:47 PM on May 29, 2011

That's an interesting question; whether the drugs helped your immune system recognize and fight the fungal infection or just got it excited enough to fight it off. The other question is whether anything will survive in acetone+whatever.

There're stuff that'll live through the vacuum of space. HOWEVER, lots of human populating (infecting) stuff doesn't survive away from a human host for very long (unless they're hydrated or whatever or ...).

Wash all your stuff in the laundry at hot. Dry everything at hot. Drown your footwear in lysole spray or put them in the oven at 60 for a couple of hours. Reasonable microbial decontamination without getting into federal guidelines(, which can be totally stupid, cost too much, and don't do what they want to do).


Fungal growths happen when a) fungal growth conditions are prime, and b) hosts for the growth are compromised.

If you're less stressed, manage toe humidity better, and can spot and treat new/starting fungal growths, I say that there's *no reason* to throw out nail polish. Nothing that`s going to pathologize people are going to survive in nail polish. My bet is that you`re going to be ok.
posted by porpoise at 10:51 PM on May 29, 2011

My husband had to do two courses of Lamisil to get rid of a particularly nasty toenail fungus a few years back. No one ever suggested getting rid of shoes. White sweatsocks were washed with bleach as a matter of course, and other socks done with regular laundry. Never had a reocurrance.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:20 PM on May 29, 2011

Oh, and neither I nor anyone else who passed through our house - including sharing the shower and hot tub - ever picked up that toenail fungus. It was systemic, not environmental.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:22 PM on May 29, 2011

I can't imagine much surviving in nail polish - (alcohol, at least the 70% alcohol I use in the bio-safety cabinet, kills via dehydration - acetone should accomplish the same thing). You should be able to wash you socks with bleach (or just a couple cycles through with hot water). Not sure about the shoes.

Pathogenic fungi is pretty ubiquitous, so it's not like, even if you kill everything in your house, you're not going to encounter more as soon as you step out the door.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:56 PM on May 29, 2011

I don't think you'd need to get rid of anything. I've had a fungal infection on my big toenail for over a decade now and it has never moved to my other toes (even if I use the same polish on all of them, though I have been careful to use a separate clipper on the bad toe) or been picked up by others in my household. Like Lulu's Pink Converse said, systemic, not environmental.
posted by dayintoday at 4:54 AM on May 30, 2011

when I asked my pedicurist if I should bringing my own polish to avoid getting nail infection, she said that fungus don't survive in nail polish. So, it seems that you can keep you nice collection of polishes. Can't say anything about shoes though
posted by ivanka at 6:03 AM on May 30, 2011

My MD told me to get rid of my my shoes or stick them in the freezer in a plastic bag to get rid of the fungus.
posted by Lost at 6:44 AM on May 30, 2011

Fungus can't really survive in nail polish. But! If you have any nail *tools* -- clippers, scissors, orange sticks, brushes, files, whatever -- those are a major vector of fungus spreading if not properly sterilized (that's often how salons spread fungus if they're not following proper procedures, as some don't)! For myself, I wouldn't chance that and would toss and re-buy. (Sterilizing, as I understand, involves boiling for a length of time and non-porous surfaces. Some things can never be sterilized.)

But definitely don't toss the poor polish!
posted by lysimache at 7:09 AM on May 30, 2011

Nail polish won't harbor the fungus, but it does prevent the nailbed from adequately breathing, which creates a better climate for the fungus to thrive. Fungus likes dark, damp environments. Nail polish creates the dark (for the nailbed), socks and shoes create the sweaty damp bit. As long as you don't wear shoes on consecutive days, and don't wear nail polish every day, I would expect you would be OK.
posted by Joh at 8:22 AM on May 30, 2011

Joh, sounds reasonable about the nailbed having to breathe. I'm not a finger nail polisher, but isn't there some type of polish design that doesn't cover the nail bed or moons. ??called french tips maybe?? If the poster shined her nails and just polished the ends, wouldn't that be 'the in style?'

Sorry if I'm off base with this, as I say, I don't do much with nails except use a hammer on them.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:45 AM on May 30, 2011

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