Toenails: Easier Targets
Toenails are four times more likely to develop fungal infections than fingernails. That’s because we encase our toenails for much of the day in a dark, moist environment: shoes and socks. That’s just the kind of living space in which fungi thrive.
It’s also easier for toenails to become exposed to fungi—on the moist surfaces around public swimming pools and in locker rooms, for example.
Fingernails: Also Susceptible
But your fingernails can become infected as well, particularly if you have a job or spend time in an activity in which your hands are frequently immersed in water. The risk of such infections increases if your cuticles or the nails themselves are damaged; tiny cuts or spaces around the nail allow fungi to enter—and spread.
Using a finger to scratch an itchy, infected toenail can also spread the infection to the nails of your hands. It’s important, therefore, to clean (and thoroughly dry) your hands whenever they come in contact with an infected toenail.
The good news about fingernail fungal infections is that they tend to respond to treatment more quickly than toenail infections.