Posted on by Catherine Omondi

Nail fungus infections can be a nuisance, especially for swimmers who love to spend their days splashing around in the pool. Whether you’re a competitive swimmer doing laps or someone who enjoys a leisurely dip, the risk of picking up a nail fungus infection is something to be aware of. Statistics indicate that nail fungus affects around 10% of the general population. And for swimmers, the odds can be higher. Why? They spend hours in the water, surrounded by others doing the same. The warm, moist environment around pools and locker rooms is a paradise for pesky fungi.

But why should swimmers care about nail fungus anyway? Besides the fact that it can be unsightly and uncomfortable, untreated nail fungus can spread to other nails and the skin. Additionally, as an athlete, nail fungus can negatively affect your performance. After all, it’s hard to focus on winning that race or perfecting your stroke when your nails are painful due to a nail fungus infection. This is why nail fungus treatment is crucial. Read on for tips and tricks for keeping nail fungus at bay and enjoying those pool days to the fullest.

Understanding nail fungus in swimmers

When it comes to nail fungus infections, swimmers are in the frontline. Let’s break down why:

1.    Prolonged exposure to moist environments

Imagine spending hours in a warm, inviting pool. Sounds relaxing, right? However, that same cozy environment is perfect for fungi, too. Nail fungus loves moisture, and when you swim, your nails are constantly exposed to water. Add in the humid conditions of locker rooms, and you have a recipe for fungal growth. The longer your nails stay wet, the more susceptible they become to infection.

2.    Sharing of facilities and equipment

Swimming isn’t just about the time spent in the water. It’s also about what happens before and after. Think about everyone who uses the same locker rooms, showers, and pool equipment as you do. Now, consider that nail fungus is highly contagious. If someone with a fungal infection walks barefoot around the pool areas or shares towels, they could spread it to others, including you.

3.    Constant friction and pressure on the nails

Swimming might seem like a low-impact sport but don’t be fooled. The repetitive motions of kicking and pushing off the pool wall can strain your nails. Over time, the constant friction and pressure can weaken your nails, making them more vulnerable to fungal invasion.

4.    Poor nail hygiene practices

After a long swim, some swimmers might not feel like drying off their feet and nails. However, skipping this step is a huge mistake, as the moisture trapped under the nails provides the perfect breeding ground for fungi. If you’re not regularly cleaning and trimming your nails, you’re inviting trouble.

Nail fungus treatment options for swimmers

Early detection and prompt treatment are crucial for swimmers with nail fungus infections. Ignoring nail fungus and hoping for the best can affect a swimmer’s performance. Furthermore, the nail fungus spreads quickly, especially in warm and damp environments where swimmers frequent it. Plus, the longer you wait to address it, the harder it can be to treat. If you suspect you have a case of nail fungus brewing, take action immediately. Some of the treatment options available for swimmers include:

1.    Topical antifungal medications

This is your first line of defense against nail fungus. These treatments are available in creams, ointments, and nail lacquers, and they work by directly targeting the fungus on the nail surface. It’s essential to be consistent when applying these medications. Apply OTC nail fungus treatments once or twice a day for several weeks. Make sure to follow the application instructions carefully, and don’t forget to keep your nails clean and dry between applications.

2.    Oral antifungal medications

If the infection has progressed, topical treatments alone may not be enough to kick the stubborn fungus to the curb. That’s where oral medications come in. Antifungal pills work from the inside out, attacking the fungus from within your body.

3.    Laser therapy

Laser therapy is a relatively new treatment option for nail fungus, but it’s gaining popularity in recent years. This non-invasive procedure uses targeted laser energy to penetrate the nail and kill the fungus beneath the surface. It’s quick, painless, and usually doesn’t require any downtime. Since it’s not a systemic treatment, it’s considered safe for swimmers. However, it can be expensive.

4.    Nail removal

In severe cases where other treatments have failed, nail removal may be necessary to completely remove the fungus. This procedure involves partial or complete removal of the affected nail to allow for new, healthy nail growth. While it may sound extreme, nail removal surgeries are a last resort for swimmers who are desperate to get back in the water without worrying about recurring infections.

Can swimmers still participate in their favorite activity while undergoing these treatments? In most cases, yes. With topical medications and laser therapy, there’s usually no need to stop swimming. However, oral medications may require caution if they have potential side effects. As always, it’s better to consult your doctor to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

Preventive measures for swimmers

Nail fungus can put a damper on your swimming game. This is why taking preventive measures is crucial to keeping your nails healthy so you can continue enjoying your favorite sport without any setbacks.

Why preventive measures are essential for swimmers

Imagine training for months, perfecting your stroke, and fine-tuning your technique. You are ready to crush your next competition and maybe even snag a spot on the podium. But then, nail fungus strikes, leaving you sidelined and unable to swim. By taking preventive measures against nail fungus, you’re not only protecting your nails, you are ensuring you can enjoy your favorite sport. Proper nail care and hygiene will prevent nail fungus from taking hold so you can stay in the water where you belong. The following are some tips to keep your nails in tip-top shape.

1.    Proper footwear

Wearing flip-flops or sandals in communal areas like locker rooms and showers can protect your feet from coming into contact with fungus lurking on the floor. It’s a simple step that can make a big difference in preventing infections.

2.    Thorough drying of feet and nails

After your swim, take the time to thoroughly dry off your feet and nails. Pay special attention to the spaces between your toes and under your nails, as these areas can trap moisture and provide the perfect breeding ground for fungus.

3.    Regular nail care

Keep your nails trimmed, clean, and moisturized to prevent fungal infections. Trim them straight across and avoid cutting them too short, as this can increase the risk of ingrown nails, which can be prone to fungal infections.

4.    Avoiding sharing personal items

Sharing towels, socks, or shoes with others can increase the risk of spreading fungal infections. To minimize this risk, always use your personal items and avoid sharing with others.

5.    Using antifungal powder or sprays

Consider using antifungal powder or spray on your feet and in your shoes as a preventive measure. These products can help reduce the risk of fungal infections.


As much as swimmers love the water, they also must be mindful of the potential risks lurking beneath the surface. If left unchecked, nail fungus can spiral into a major setback for any swimmer. That’s why it’s crucial to be proactive when it comes to nail health. Make it a habit to regularly inspect your nails for signs of infection and seek treatment at the first sign of trouble. Early detection and prompt toenail fungus treatment will ensure you can continue enjoying uninterrupted swimming experiences. By implementing all the tips we’ve mentioned into your routine, you safeguard your nails and keep them in tip-top shape. Here’s to many more laps, dives, and victories to come.