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Can I wear nail polish if I have nail fungus?

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Aug 23, 2023.

Official answer

  • Check with your dermatologist before wearing nail polish if you have nail fungus
  • Nail polish won’t treat nail fungus
  • Remember to give your nails a break from wearing polish all of the time

If you have nail fungus (onychomycosis), you should check with your dermatologist before wearing nail polish to see if it is suitable for you to wear while receiving treatment, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD).

Some products used to treat fungal infections on fingernails or toenails are not recommended for use with nail polish, such as Penlac (ciclopirox) Nail Lacquer, which is painted onto the affected nail and surrounding area.

Other topical products, however, may be suitable to use. Kerydin (tavaborole) and Jublia (efinaconazole), for example, are thought to be just as effective when applied with nail polish. Although, Jublia has been found to make nail polish more tacky and damage the appearance of the nail polish. When Jublia was applied to painted nails its applicator brush also changed color as the nail polish color was transferred to the brush. This did not occur when Kerydin was applied to painted nails.

Why do people wear nail polish when they have nail fungus?

Nail polish will not treat your nail fungus, but some patients use it to help disguise unsightly nails.

Wearing nail polish all of the time is not recommended

Foot specialist Joy Rowland, DPM, recommends that nail polish should not be worn all of the time because your nails can soak up the pigment from the polish, causing them to dry out. This creates a more welcoming environment for fungus and other infectious agents to grow. Wearing polish for a few weeks then removing it and going without for a few weeks is recommended to give your nails a chance to breathe and stay healthy.


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