Toenail Fungus Specialist

Toenail fungus is a common cause of toe pain and embarrassing nail discoloration. As a top-ranked podiatrist in San Francisco, CA, Dr. Joseph Stern treats toenail fungus using state-of-the-art methods for quick relief of symptoms and eradication of stubborn fungal infections.

Toenail Fungus Q&A

What causes toenail fungus?

Toenail fungal infections are caused by dermatophytes, tiny, microscopic fungal bodies that thrive in warm, damp environments like public pools and showers and locker room floors. Walking barefoot in these areas can increase the risks of developing toenail fungus significantly. Wearing shoes and socks of someone who has a toenail fungus infection can also result in an infection. The fungus enters the nail bed through a small opening in the skin, and when skin is softened by exposure to water, it becomes easier for the fungus to enter. The nail provides a very tough barrier that makes it difficult for medications to reach the root of the infection, allowing infections to persist and making many topical medications ineffective in eradicating the fungus. People with a history of fungal infections and those with compromised immune or circulatory systems, including diabetes, are also more likely to become infected.

What symptoms do fungal toenails cause?

Usually, the first sign of a toenail fungal infection is a small white or yellow spot that forms under the nail. Some discolorations can be caused by melanoma, so having any abnormality professionally evaluated is important to make sure the most appropriate treatment is promptly provided. As the infection spreads, the nail will become brittle and ragged and the discoloration will spread. Eventually, painful symptoms will develop, occurring when the nail area is pressed and when wearing shoes.

How is toenail fungus treated?

Toenail fungus can be treated with topical or oral medications or both. Long-term use of oral medications can cause liver problems, so topical medications are usually the first choice. To enable the medications to reach the fungus, a portion of the nail or the entire nail may need to be removed prior to application. Today, many infections can be treated with laser therapy designed to penetrate the nail and destroy the fungus without removing the nail itself.

Can I treat a toenail fungal infection with an over-the-counter medicine?

Because of the location of the fungus, over-the-counter medications are largely ineffective in treating infections, and their use can delay professional treatment, enabling the infection to become worse.


Please note that this is not a complete list of our contracted insurance carriers. If your provider is not listed, please contact us. We also encourage you to contact your insurance carrier to confirm coverage.

Blue Cross Blue Shield
Blue Shield of California
Federal Blue Cross Blue Shield
United Healthcare

Words from our patients

  • Yelp

    "Wonderful doctor, very knowledgeable and passionate about his field...personally, i think the world could use more doctors like doctor Stern"

    Josie M.
  • Yelp

    "Doctor Stern takes his time with his clients and is a pleasure to see. I have recommended him to a number of my family and friends"

    Vahid r.
  • Yelp

    "Dr. Stern is an amazing podiatrist and if you are having foot trouble, he's the guy you should see."

    Jeffrey S.
  • Yelp

    "Dr. Stern is an extremely knowledgeable and thoroughly attentive doctor. I've always felt taken care of, considered, and heard when at his office."

    Gerardo C.
  • Yelp

    "I would not hesitate to recommend dr. Stern to any friends who are suffering foot problems no matter where they may live in the Bay Area."

    Juan A.
  • Yelp

    "Incredible doctor who truly cares about his patients and his practice... I would highly recommend Dr Stern. He's the doctor you want to go see."

    Vivek K.
  • Yelp

    "Dr Stern is best Podiatrist in the Bay Area! he's clearly passionate about his work... Thank you Doc"

    N H.
  • Yelp

    "After his treatment, I'm now able to run farther than I ever could in my entire life, and now I'm training for a race this summer"

    Jason M.
  • Yelp

    "Dr. Stern is not only professional, but also friendly, kind hearted and very humorous. I am very grateful for Dr. Stern to bring sunshine to a 80 year old woman's life"

    Michael O.
  • Google+

    "Doctor Stern takes his time with his clients and is a pleasure to see. I have recommended him to a number of my family and friends."

    Vahid R.
  • Google+

    "Dr. Stern is extremely knowledgeable, his bedside manner is impeccable, and he takes the time to thoroughly explain all problems and solutions regarding my problems"

    Verified Patient
Joseph Stern, DPM
909 Hyde St., Suite 618
San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone: 415-408-5631
Office Hours

Get in touch