Posted on by Catherine Omondi

If you have dealt with toenail fungus before, you know the struggle. But what happens when you think you have gotten rid of it, only for it to come knocking again? Toenail fungus recurrence is when the fungus infection rears its ugly head again after nail fungus treatment. Unfortunately, this happens more than you think.

You might wonder, “Why does this keep happening to me?” There are several reasons why nail fungus may come back after treatment, and understanding these reasons can help you implement measures to prevent the infection from making a comeback. The following are the top 10 reasons why your toenail fungus might be staging a repeat performance:

  1. Incomplete treatment
  2. Ineffective medication
  3. Reinfection from infected shoes and socks
  4. Reinfection from the environment
  5. Sharing personal items
  6. Poor foot hygiene
  7. Trauma to your nails
  8. Underlying health conditions
  9. Improper nail care
  10. Genetic predisposition

Let’s discuss each of these reasons in more detail.

Incomplete treatment

You know that feeling when you begin treatment, and your nails finally start looking less like a science experiment gone wrong? It’s like a victory lap for your toes. However, just because your nails look better doesn’t mean the battle is over.

Some people hit pause on their nail fungus treatment when they see those yellow nails fading or the pain subsiding. It’s tempting to call it quits when you start seeing progress. However, nail fungus is sneaky. Even if your nails look better on the surface, the fungus might still be underneath, plotting a comeback.

Nail fungus infections are stubborn. If you don’t finish the entire course of treatment, you’re leaving the door wide open for the fungus to come right back whenever it pleases. Therefore, you must stick to the treatment plan until the end, even if your nails look Instagram-worthy again. Finishing strong is the only way to keep the fungus from invading your nails again.

Ineffective medication

Not all treatments are created equal, and our best efforts can fall short of victory. Some people quickly reach out for home treatments when they notice signs of nail fungus infections. Unfortunately, these DIY solutions and home remedies don’t always work for toenail fungus. They might make your nails look better, but they are not getting to the root of the problem. Toenail fungus is a pesky infection that you must dig deep to get rid of for good. While home remedies might deal with the surface symptoms, they are not always getting to the heart of the issue. Therefore, the infection might seem to disappear for a while but come back with a vengeance.

But it’s not just DIY treatments that fall short. Even over-the-counter medications might not be up to the task, especially for severe infections. They might tackle the disease on the surface, but it could continue lurking underneath, and recurrence may be inevitable. So, what should you do? Get the correct treatment for the severity of your infection. If you are not sure, consult a medical professional.

Reinfection from infected shoes and socks

Fungi can have a knack for survival, and they are not afraid of making themselves comfortable in our shoes and socks. If you have worn your shoes or socks while battling a fungal infection and didn’t give them a proper scrubbing afterward, you might be in for a rude awakening. Wearing those same shoes or socks again after successful treatment will cause reinfection. To prevent this from happening, wash and disinfect your shoes and socks regularly. Additionally, alternate between different pairs of shoes to give them time to dry out between wears. Fungi love warm, damp environments, so by keeping your shoes dry, you are reducing their chances of survival.

Reinfection from the environment

Walking around barefoot in public areas is an invitation for trouble. Fungi love hanging out in gyms, locker rooms, and swimming pools. When you walk without shoes in these public places, fungi spores might set up camp in your nails, ready to wreak havoc again. The simple solution is to always wear shoes in public areas. Whether it’s flip-flops in the shower or sneakers in the gym, keeping your feet covered can prevent reinfection.

Sharing personal items

Picture this – You’ve slathered on creams, popped pills, and finally banished fungi from your nails. However, even after waving goodbye to toenail fungus, they still have a chance of creeping back into your life through personal items. These can include nail files, towels, and even nail clippers. If you use personal items belonging to anyone around you with a nail fungus infection, you will get the fungal infection again. The solution is simple. Keep your personal items personal. That means no sharing socks, shoes, or anything else that comes in close contact with your feet.

Poor foot hygiene

Even if you have received treatment for toenail fungus, poor foot hygiene can cause recurrence. Not cleaning your feet or drying them is a recipe for fungal disaster. Fungi love warm, damp environments. When you don’t clean your feet properly, you welcome the fungi to invade your nails again. The solution is to wash your feet regularly, scrubbing between your toes. When you’re done, dry with a towel and ensure you get every nook and cranny. Swap out your sweaty socks and shoes for fresh ones regularly, and opt for breathable footwear to keep your feet cool and dry.

Trauma to your nails

Life can be a little rough on our poor toes sometimes. Whether it’s stubbing your toe on the coffee table or dropping something heavy on your foot, our nails can take a beating without us even realizing it. All that trauma isn’t just painful. It could be opening the door for a sneak attack from toenail fungus. The solution is to protect your nails from injury. Whether it’s wearing steel-toed boots or being more mindful of where you’re stepping, taking steps to prevent nail trauma can help keep fungi at bay. Inspect your nails regularly for signs of injury. If you notice any damage to your nails, clean the area and monitor for any signs of infection.

Underlying health conditions

Sometimes, when nail fungus recurs, it could be a sign that there’s something else going on under the surface. If you find yourself in a never-ending battle with nail fungus, it might be a red flag that there’s something else going on with your health. We’re talking problems with your circulatory system, diabetes, or even a weakened immune system. It helps to visit your doctor to check for any underlying health conditions. Once you have a diagnosis, you can take charge of your health. Managing these underlying health conditions will prevent toenail fungus from returning.

Improper nail care

Nail care is a delicate dance between beauty and maintenance. Sometimes, our best intentions can lead us down the wrong path, straight into the waiting arms of toenail fungus. Here’s the scoop – when grooming your nails, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. Cutting nails too short or getting too enthusiastic with the nail file can injure the nail bed, creating an opening for fungi. You should cut your nails straight across and don’t cut them too close to the skin.

Genetic predisposition

When it comes to nail fungus, some people were dealt a genetic wildcard. Even after treatment for nail fungus, they keep coming back. Unfortunately, some studies suggest some people are more prone to opportunistic fungal infections than others, thanks to their genes. While you can’t change your genetics, you can be more diligent about practicing prevention measures to minimize the risk. This means doubling down on foot hygiene habits, keeping your nails clean and dry, and avoiding sharing personal items. While genetics might stack the deck against you, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to a lifetime of fungal misery. Take control of your foot health and be proactive about prevention, and you will keep the toenail fungus at bay.


Understanding the factors that cause toenail fungus to keep recurring will empower you to take proactive measures to prevent recurrence. By completing the entire course of treatment, practicing proper foot hygiene, keeping personal items to yourself, and managing underlying conditions, you can prevent the infection from returning. However, if the infection still persists or recurs despite your best efforts, call your doctor for further evaluation and treatment.