Can Toenail Fungus Spread Internally?

Young woman cleaning toenails, close-up isolated over white background
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Wear those strappy sandals and flaunt those sexy feet on a date or social occasion. But make sure you don’t have toenail fungus… or it can be very embarrassing.

Toenail fungus is usually not painful, especially in the beginning. This is why many ignore it until they want to flaunt their feet. However, there is a more serious reason why you should pay attention. 

Toenail fungus easily spreads, so your other nails are at risk. Furthermore, it can get into various parts of the body and cause an infection there. 

So can toenail fungus spread internally? The short answer is yes, it can spread internally. But that is rare. The fungus is likely to spread internally when you have a severe toenail fungus infection that is not treated and a weak or compromised immune system. 


Dangers Of Ignoring Toenail Fungus

One day you find yourself with a toenail that is differently colored than the others, or maybe you’ve got some itchy toes. You may have bruised your toe, or potentially it’s toenail fungus. 

But it doesn’t hurt at all, and you don’t really show off your toes. So what do you do? Do you simply ignore it and hope it goes away? Paint over the toenail?

Many people would have done that exact same thing. However, that is not the wisest decision to do especially if you confirm that you have toenail fungus. 

If you don’t try to get rid of the toenail fungus right away, it can severely infect your toenails and that can lead to the following consequences:


At first, the toenail fungus doesn’t really bother those who have them. There can be a little discoloration of the nail and it could appear thicker than it normally is. 

However, as the infection progresses, the thickening of the nail becomes severe as well. The toenail also becomes misshapen which is the main source of the pain. 

When the toenail grows longer in a different direction, it can push on the skin or surrounding the nail. That could be very painful and could make it difficult for you to walk. 

Fungus Starts To Spread

If the toenail fungus is left untreated, it can spread. It may not only infect the other nails but the other parts of the body too. The surrounding skin can be infected. This condition is known as athlete’s foot

An athlete’s foot is a condition where the skin becomes itchy, cracked, and reddish. The fungus spreads easily in a dark and moist environment. 

When you have toenail fungus and you wear socks or shoes for hours, it could be the perfect breeding area for the fungus.

It can easily spread to the skin on your foot. 

There is also a risk of spreading the fungus to the genitals. If you accidentally touch the infected nail and you scratch or touch your genitals, you can spread them there. 

This will result in a jock itch. This is a condition that affects both men and women.

It turns the skin on the groin and inner thighs reddish in color. It is itchy and uncomfortable too.

Widespread Infection

At first, toenail fungus may seem like a harmless infection that affects the nails. However, in severe cases and people with various diseases, it could cause a great problem. 

Widespread infection of a toenail fungus is risky for people with diabetes or other chronic diseases.

These types of diseases and conditions weaken the immune system. 

The fungus starts to spread when the fungus infects the skin because of the cracks on it. This could lead to cellulitis, which makes the skin itchy, swollen, and reddish. Severe cases of cellulitis could lead to the infection to gain access to the bloodstream. 

That can be a fatal consequence.

How Can Toenail Fungus Spread Internally?

One of the things you should watch out for when dealing with an infection is its ability to spread to the other areas of the body. Toenail fungus does have the ability to spread to different body parts if it is left untreated. 

That is why you should treat toenail fungus as soon as you figure out that you have one. Aside from spreading to the other nails, it spreads to the skin too. This can cause various skin issues like skin infections, ringworm, or athlete’s foot. 

Apart from that, it can spread internally too when it gets access to the bloodstream. However, that only happens rarely when the fungal infection is severe and when the person infected is immunocompromised. 

Toenail fungus usually happens as the fungi eat away the keratin found on your nails. Usually, they stick to doing that. 

However, with severe infection, your nails will change not only in appearance but also in shape. That could cause pain and could even cause wounds on the nail bed, which gives the fungi access to your skin cells.

Further infection that is left untreated will eventually reach the bloodstream. 

When the fungus reaches the blood, there are two things that can happen. It can either get destroyed or cause an internal infection. 

The body naturally has various defense mechanisms to fight the infection whether it is caused by bacteria, viruses, or in this case, fungi. The blood has those defenses too so it doesn’t easily get infected by those foreign to the body.

When the body’s immune system is weak or compromised, the defense system is down and may not be able to completely fight off the fungal infection.

Furthermore, if the type of fungi you are dealing with is strong and has already severely caused a toenail fungal infection, then it could potentially cause internal infection. 

Although it could rarely happen, it is still a risk that you shouldn’t take. When you notice that you have a toenail fungus, the best thing to do is to seek medical treatment right away. 

How To Prevent Toenail Fungus From Spreading

Every day, we can be exposed to the microorganism that causes toenail fungus. It desires a warm, moist, and dark place. So the best thing to do to prevent getting it on your toenails in the first place is to make sure your feet are clean and dry. 

The fungus doesn’t just infect the nail. It infects the area between the nail and the nailbed. There is usually no gap there but it could happen when there is trauma. 

Trauma from those sights could be due to a bad pedicure, shoes that don’t fit well, using infected tools, or repetitive trauma due to your daily activities. 

In case you already have toenail fungus, getting a treatment plan for it is the best way to stop it from spreading to other people or throughout your body.

Do remember that when treating toenail fungus, it doesn’t mean that the fungus cannot spread anymore. While it is being treated you should take necessary precautions to help prevent it from spreading. 

There are no FDA-approved over-the-counter and home remedies for toenail fungus. To get proper treatment, you’ll have to visit your doctor.

But there are some home remedies many have had success with including hydrogen peroxide, Vicks, and alcohol. But avoid bleach if you’re tempted.

There are also homeopathic products like Emuaid and Kerasal that some have had success with. But these are hit or miss at best.

When applying the creams, make sure not to touch the affected area. Use a cotton ball for the application of the ointment so that you don’t accidentally spread the fungus. 

Be careful of the dust from the filed nail because it can contain fungus. It is best to wash the feet or take a shower after filing off the nail to wash off all the fungus in the dust. 

Topical creams are usually used for superficial toenail fungus conditions. When the toenail fungus infection is more severe, you should go to a podiatrist to seek a better treatment plan.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).