Can You Hide Toenail Fungus With Polish?

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

So you’ve fallen victim to a toenail fungal infection. Ugh, how did that happen? So of course, your first instinct is to hide toenail fungus with polish.

No, you should not try to hide toenail fungus with polish.

It seems like a quick fix for an unsightly problem, we know! But in this article, we are going to look at toenail fungus and why wearing nail polish will not be the answer. In fact, polish may even make the problem worse! We’ll also discuss some alternatives for treating toenail fungus.


What is Toenail Fungus?

Also known as onychomycosis, toenail fungus occurs when fungi, which are normally present in and on the human body, begin to overpopulate.

Fungus thrives in warm moist environments, like between sweaty toes, in your groin area, between and under the breasts – anywhere that gets sweaty.

And unlike your forehead or face, these areas are often covered in layers and aren’t places you can just easily wipe in public.

So these areas tend to be warmer and moister than other more accessible parts. This is what makes these areas perfect breeding grounds for fungus.

When this overabundance of fungi gets into a crack in the nail or between the nail plate and the nail bed, it results in a toenail fungal infection.

Toenail fungus typically begins as a white or yellow spot under the edge of the nail. As the fungal infection spreads and goes deeper into the nail, it starts to separate the keratin in the nail plate.

This causes the nail to discolor. The nail becomes opaque, thickens, and eventually crumbles at the edges.

Can You Hide Toenail Fungus with Polish?

We get it – how are you supposed to go to yoga class, wear open-toed shoes, or join the pool party with unsightly toenails?

A little polish will hide it, right?

Well, yes! But.

The main issue with using trying to hide toenail fungus with polish is that it’s just covering up the problem. That cover-up of polish is actually preventing moisture from escaping your nails. It’s also blocking light, which makes your nails even more conducive to fungal growth.

Polish will likely just make the situation worse. If you’re wearing nail polish, it’s preventing you from treating your fungal infection.

That cover-up of polish is actually preventing moisture from escaping your nails. It’s also blocking light, which makes your nails even more conducive to fungal growth.

Nail fungus is extremely hard to get rid of because topical antifungals cannot easily penetrate the nail. So there’s no chance of anything helping your toenail fungus if you’re adding a coat of armor on top.

Treat Toenail Fungus, Don’t Try to Hide It

You could just cover up your toenail fungus with nail polish and it seems like problem solved, but you’re not solving anything. That’s kind of like noticing that your roof has started leaking and you decided to just put up a tarp over the spot it’s leaking instead of fixing it.

Eventually, the rot and mold will spread and weaken the entire structure, animals take up residence in your attic, the roof will start to leak in other places, and pretty soon the whole building is rotted out.

Toenail fungus will not go away on its own, it only gets worse and spreads.

Toenail fungus, like all fungal infections, is contagious. So not only can you spread it to other people, but it will spread to your other nails and spread to your skin causing a skin fungal infection, like athlete’s foot.

If left untreated, toenail fungus may eventually take over the entire nail and spread to other nails.

Don’t forget to disinfect your nail clippers

Advanced cases of toenail fungus often result in misshapen nails. These misshapen nails can grow back into the skin in awkward ways and cause painful ingrown toenails and bacterial infections in the skin, including cellulitis.

Toenail fungus has been found to put you at a significantly higher risk of cellulitis of the leg, which can lead to amputation and even death.

Toenail fungus can also be especially dangerous for people with an immunosuppressive condition, like lupus, or those suffering from diabetes as it can lead to foot ulcers and other complications.

Does Antifungal Nail Polish Work?

There are now medicated nail polishes on the market that claim to be for toenail fungus. Fantastic, right?

Here are a few things you need to know before you rush out to buy an antifungal nail polish…

As of right now, the only FDA-approved, clinically tested treatments proven to work specifically on toenail fungus are available by prescription only. The cost of long-term prescription medication is not cheap, which is why so many people are so eager to try any over-the-counter or home remedy treatment that claims to be for toenail fungus.

Even the over-the-counter antifungal treatments that market themselves as a nail fungal treatment must, by law, state somewhere on the label or package insert that it’s “not for nails”.

That is because there has been no research, clinical testing, or scientific evidence of anything, (other than the medications available only by prescription), that is effective at treating toenail fungus.

Most of the nail polishes out there that claim to be “antifungal” contain a popular home remedy, like tea tree oil  or snakeroot extract, as their active ingredient.

You can certainly give one of these polishes a try, but don’t hold out much hope.

Don’t hide it, treat it! 

Going to see a dermatologist or podiatrist to work out a treatment plan is your best chance of success, especially if you’ve had your toenail fungus for a long time. Your doctor will take a scraping and have it tested to see what type of fungus they are dealing. Then they will work out the best course of treatment for you.

This may not be an option for everyone as the cost of prescription medication can be expensive, but there’s some good news. There are probably half a dozen things you have in your kitchen pantry or bathroom medicine cabinet that have antifungal properties that are actually pretty effective at clearing up a regular skin fungal infection.

A nail fungal infection is much harder to treat but, if you catch it early, a lot of these home remedies could actually help. These are our top three picks for home remedies that just might work:

[amazon_link=”B0186Y85Y4″ “link_text=”Vicks VapoRub” link_icon=”amazon” /]

Vicks VapoRub contains camphor (4.8%), thymol (1.2%), and menthol (2.6%). The same ingredients that have made Vicks VapoRub a medicine cabinet staple for easing coughs, colds and chest congestion ever since it was invented over a century ago, also all have antifungal properties

[amazon_link=”B074KNKHDS” “link_text=”Apple Cider Vinegar” link_icon=”amazon” /] 

Vinegar is acidic, which gives it antifungal and antibacterial properties. It slows down the growth of some types of fungus and may even get rid of it entirely. Whether it’s apple cider vinegar or just regular white vinegar, they both work the same way.

[amazon_link=”B07GDN51MD” “link_text=”Hydrogen Peroxide 3%” link_icon=”amazon” /] 

Hydrogen peroxide kills yeasts, bacteria, viruses, mold spores, and fungi. If you choose to give Hydrogen Peroxide a try, make sure you use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Anything stronger than 3% can cause irritation or potentially cause damage to the surrounding skin tissue.

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).