Catching nail fungus from patients?


Working as a tech on a stroke unit, I see and bathe many people with severe toenail fungus, especially in elderly patients who can't reach their feet and have no one to do foot care. Before starting this job, never in my life could I have imagined toenails that look like ram's horns sprouting vertically an inch and a half off someone's foot. Should I be worried about contracting a fungal infection?

Of course, I am always gloved and wash hands or use antibacterial foam before and after bathing or handling their feet. Still, the germaphobe in me is worried about touching a bed rail in gloves during a bath, spreading spores, then maybe having a tiny papercut on a hand and touching the spot again later without gloves and contracting this... could that even happen? Are onychomycosis spores even spread this way? Or... what if an agitated dementia patient kicks me and cuts my arm with a gnarly toenail?

Though I've been searching online, there's not a lot of information on avoiding nail fungus, mostly just how to get rid of it. Neither walking barefoot through gym locker rooms nor getting it via an unsanitary pedicure are risk factors for me, so googling hasn't been very helpful. I'm not usually a germaphobe, but some of these feet are horrifying!

Specializes in Critical Care, Emergency Medicine, Flight.

ive seen the feet your talking about unfortunately.

i cant imagine my toe nails getting as long as some of these patients, let alone the conditon that they are in. its sad.

As long as you wear gloves, and wash your hands with soap and water, each and everytime you are in a room or with a patient u should be ok.

if i spot some funky feet gloves go on my hands before i even think about touching the patient. maybe even double just to be safe !