How to treat soccer toe

Foot blisters are so common in soccer that weekend and seasoned player come to accept that sooner or later they’ll get them. The blisters develop from friction between shoes and feet. It’s the constant rubbing as players sharply cut left and right, accelerate and stop hard, all the while driving the weight of their body into and against the structure of the cleats where ultimately, the force is applied against the skin on their feet. Blisters develop when tight-fitting cleats distribute weight unevenly, but it may not be because of the cleat. It may depend on your sock choice, body weight, style of play, how you move on the field, the air temperature, the humidity, and sweat!

The first sign that a blister may be developing is what feels like a hot spot under or around your foot. It occurs where the skin is exposed to pressure from rubbing. However minimal it may be, the movement tears away at surface skin cells. At first you may feel it as a hot spot, and as the rubbing continues, sweat carrying salts and minerals out of your feet is like fine sandpaper. It adds friction that is worsened by moisture and sweat. The natural body reaction is to send in fluid to protect the area, ultimately forming a blister.

All is not lost. There are things you can do to reduce the risk, pain and time needed to recover from blisters.

How can you prevent foot blisters?

Reduce Friction

It will lower your blister risk. Use a barrier lubricant like Foot Glide® balm. Many blister preventatives are wet, oily, and are easily pushed away from where you need protection. Foot Glide® balm is dry, made of plant ingredients, never oily or messy and it adds a protective layer on the skin to reduce friction.

Good Gear

Wear cleats that are properly sized and that distribute your weight evenly. Don’t take a chance on fit – it’s another critical variable to whether you will get blisters.

Another is your socks. Be sure they are seam free and that they are specifically made to wick away moisture. Always keep fresh socks in your bag to make a fast, easy switch at the half and after a long game.

How to properly treat a soccer blister?

A soccer blister can be quite painful and could sideline you until healed. If you feel the need to drain the blister, be careful and consider contacting a health professional. If you feel the need is critical and must do it yourself (which should be your last resort!) here’s how to do it safely.

  • Wash your hands and the blister with warm water and soap.
  • Swab the blister and area with an antiseptic like iodine or rubbing alcohol.
  • Sterilize a clean and sharp needle by wiping it with an antiseptic.
  • Gently puncture the blister in a few spots near the blister edge. Let the fluid drain (applying very gentle pressure if necessary) and do not remove the overlying skin.
  • Immediately apply an antibiotic ointment to the area and cover with a bandage or gauze.
  • After several days, you can cut away the dead skin using sterilized scissors and tweezers.
  • Seek medical advice immediately if you notice redness, pus, warm or inflamed skin or increasing pain as these could all be signs of a serious infection.

And this brings it back to prevention:

Apply Foot Glide® balm right before you put on your socks, before practice and before a match. Put it on areas of your foot, around your toes, at your ankles, under the soles and on the sides of your feet where the forces from quick cuts and hard stops can take a toll. Foot Glide® balm is an invisible barrier between your feet, socks and cleats helping reduce friction that causes blisters!

Soccer can be a rough sport. As a soccerista, you collide with others, slide straight into opposing players, and even are stepped on during the chaos of the beautiful game. It’s easy to forget to take time to treat yourself if you’re not in severe pain. However, some of the most common problems we face in soccer cause less obvious pain.

Bruised toenail

Probably the most common injury any soccerista will undergo is a bruised toenail, since it can be caused by pretty much everything — usually from being stepped on. It results in a beautiful black and blue discoloration from the hurt blood vessel.

Within 24 hours, pain should occur from the pressure building up from blood under the nail. The fun part begins once the pressure has built, as treatment for the injury often results in “drilling” a hole into the nail. It is recommended you see a physician who will put a small hole in your nail to allow the blood to leak out. Don’t worry, it’s generally a painless procedure and will relieve the pain under the nail quickly. The nail should fall off on its own, but will need to be protected while playing until a new nail replaces the old.

Turf toe

A sudden change in direction can cause a multitude of injuries, and turf toe is just one of the many sprains to come from the action. The sprain affects the metatarsophalangeal joint when a soccerista propels off the big toe as they change directions. It’s often occurs when playing on turf, from flat feet, or soft cleats. Luckily, this sprain won’t take you out for the season and simply involves several icing sessions. After taking sometime off of the sprain, taping up will help prevent the injury from worsening and limit the extension of the joint when you push off again.

Toenail fungus

It’s gross and you don’t want to talk about it; I get it. However, talking about it helps us prevent getting it, and helps treat it later on.

Toenail fungus is passed when your toenail comes in contact with a colonized surface. It can really be any surface, including but not limited to shower floors, flip flops, shoes, socks, and many more areas. The infection will turn your nail a discolored white-yellow and cause your nails to become brittle. It’s easier to prevent than treat, as it will most likely require a daily prescriptive pill for 12 weeks to clear up.

To prevent it, keep your toenails trimmed, wear fitted and breathable shoes and footwear, avoid being barefoot in public, and don’t share shoes or nail care products. The less you share with others, the more likely you are to avoid dealing with the fungus.

Athlete’s foot

You’ve heard of it; everyone talks about it. Athlete’s foot is the first thing people associate with the locker room and it often gets passed around one quickly. It’s a red rash on the foot that starts mostly in between the toes before spreading over the foot. Surfaces are quickly infected by the fungi which makes it easy to pass from teammate to teammate.

Avoiding being barefoot in public places will forever be the number one rule of avoiding feet problems. Keep a pair of sandals handy if you hate tennis shoes and try to avoid touching the floor with bare feet. Don’t share feet gear. Even if your friends don’t have a fungi, doesn’t mean they don’t carry it. Leave your shoes and socks for your feet only. Treatment is easier than toenail fungus, as you can seek over-the-counter topical anti-fungal products, but if it doesn’t clear up after seven days of treatment, you should seek advice from your physician.

Ingrown toenails

Proper care of your feet and regularly trimming your nails can make ingrown toenails non-existent for you as a player. An ingrown toenail is defined by the toenail growing downward into the toe pad instead of straight out. It is often caused by downward force put on the nail from running and sprinting. When caring for your nails, trim them directly horizontal and leave a small extension of nail over the toepad. If you find yourself infected, regular epsom salt soaks for 15-20 minutes multiple times a day will help heal the toe, followed by using cotton under the nail to assist the healing. It won’t be a quick fix, but over several months, you should see improvements of the nail.

Like a musician cares for his or her instrument, it’s important for you to care for your feet as a soccer player. They take a beating game after game; it’s only fair we provide them proper care and cleaning regularly. A team pedicure a couple of times during the season might not be a bad idea!

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How to treat soccer toe

“…As much playing time is now lost in the NFL because of turf toe as ankle sprains, and it has become the most common injury reported by some 600 college players…”

A great amount of interest has been paid to “A Fix for Turf Toe”, which was posted in this blog one year ago. Since that time, hundreds of athletes have emailed me seeking help with this problem. Many parents have reached out with concerns about a child athlete’s turf toe. While many inquiries have been from football players, I was surprised to receive numerous emails from athletes in basketball, tennis, soccer and track & field as well. At the time of inquiry, some of the injuries were fresh, which is my favorite point of entry, but many others were chronic. For those long lasting cases, most of the athletes had tried conventional treatment methods with little success. So, with Super Bowl #51 in mind, I have penned this sequel, to give you more information about my revolutionary treatment protocol.

NFL athletes who have been laid low by Turf Toe include:

LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego Chargers running back

Darren McFadden – Raiders running back

Jonathon Ogden – Ravens offensive tackle

Jack Lambert – legendary Steelers linebacker

(For more about football and turf toe, check out this article on NFL Greats Who Have Been Grounded by Turf Toe.)

Conventional treatment protocol for turf toe has not changed in the 35 years since I played high school football. RICE – rest, ice, compress, elevate – remains the go-to method for dealing with this type of injury. This protocol involves immobilizing the toe joint – that’s the “rest” part. Immobilization is generally recommended for up to 4 weeks following injury. While the Sports Illustrated quote above is from 1988, I imagine the incidence of turf toe has only increased with an increase in artificial turf fields. Still, the recommended treatment is the same old thing and the results are not impressive.


In my method, I take the opposite approach to convention and actually encourage mobilizing the affected joint – and here’s why. The underlying problem with the turf toe is that you have 2 bones that meet at a joint, which is inflamed, possibly calcified and likely damaged. Moving and separating those two bones promotes micro-circulation, which works to flush out excess calcium and reduce swelling, allowing the joint to recover. The joint will only get better with movement.

So, the question is, how exactly do we mobilize the joint capsule? We do it by grabbing bone A and bone B and moving them away from each other. Watch this sort video to see how it works.


Another essential component of my method is taping. My taping protocol was developed specifically for turf toe and the results are stellar. I like taping a toe because it keeps it safe and there is not an advantage to not taping it. Especially if the issue with the turf toe is recent. Check out the below video for all you need to know about taping a turf toe.

In general, the rule of thumb in injury prevention/rehabilitation is that you do what it takes to keep the area out of pain. So, on extreme cases, the toe should be taped throughout the day, then re-taped after mobilization exercises. I will often recommend that an athlete continue to tape their toe for all games and practices, even after it is healed, just as they would do for an injured ankle. The toe is still vulnerable and taping will help prevent further injury.

I recently worked with a college football player who had had 2 toe surgeries before I met him, yet still, he was in chronic pain and the toe joint was completely immobile. After one appointment at my office and a few FaceTime updates, however, he had 100% mobility and was back playing football. He is now in his senior year and going strong and is dedicated to using my mobilization and taping techniques for treatment as well as for prevention.


Take a look at this short video called “Have a Ball on your Feet”. It demonstrates a unique stretching method for the foot in which all the bones of the foot are activated and “rolled out” using a tennis ball or similar therapeutic device. Few people understand the importance of having free bone movement throughout the foot so that the total amount of tension doesn’t end up localized in one area, in this case, the big toe joint.

With this exercise, the principle of supply and demand is useful. If you’re putting more stress on the feet, training more, traveling more, working out more, then you want to do more recovery. That being said, if you are serious about taking care of a turf toe, step one is getting it out of the painful stage and that’s a daily process. The exercise can be completed in as little as 10 minutes or can take as long as 30-40 minutes.

If you are dealing with the pain and inconvenience of turf toe, you are in good company. Julio Jones, Falcon wide receiver and Eli Rogers, starting slot receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers are two high-end NFL athletes who are also been struggling with turf toe. Just like you, they too, can be on the road to recovery using the three steps outlined above.

Mobilization, taping and “rolling out” the foot are key to fixing turf toe problems. Mobilization promotes circulation and allows the joint to heal. Taping protects and stabilizes the joint. Rolling out reduces tension in the entire foot and helps prevents future injuries. Go ahead, give it a try, experience the results for yourself. Your toes and feet will feel better forever.

Brian Dorfman is available for video consultation via FaceTime or Skype if you want to talk with him about your turf toe but cannot make it to one of his California clinics.

Turf Toe: What It Is and How to Treat It

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Well wouldn’t you know it? I’ve covered several different foot, ankle, and lower leg ailments that I’ve suffered through, and now I have a new one for you.

It’s called turf toe and by looking at what doctors and physical therapists typically say, I was prone to getting it at some point.

Soccer season has just started up for me and because it’s wintertime, we’re playing indoors. The field we’re playing on is made of artificial turf, which I originally thought was an incredible luxury; apparently not for my toes.

Turf toe is the sports-oriented way of saying a sprain of the metatarsophalangeal joint, which is the big toe joint. It’s the result of an acute or chronic hyperextension of the big toe.

The reason it got the name turf toe is because so many athletes who played on artificial turf would suffer this same injury. Football players, soccer players, and even some basketball players find this injury to be a common one in their sport.

The introduction of artificial turf and newer, more advanced cleats in recent years meant that athletes can generate more friction against the ground.

Previously, with real grass and less advanced cleats, the toe inside the shoe would’ve taken grass with it as friction was created. Now, the turf isn’t moving and the cleat isn’t moving so something has to give. Unfortunately, the tendons across the bottom of the big toe now have to take the majority of that force.

The injury actually happens when there is a forced hyperextension of the big toe, most notably when an athlete is running forward and comes to a sudden stop, bending the big toe back into hyperextension while force is still coming down on the heel of the same foot.

This amount of force can cause a tear in the tissues along the bottom of the toe and that’s what the injury actually is.

Apparently, this is what I did to myself as well. I felt some pain in and around the big toe joint after playing and I figured I just got kicked and stepped on a couple times. While that wasn’t wrong, that’s not where the pain was coming from.

Clearly after 2-3 weeks of having this same problem, and being uncomfortable when I bend my toe too far back or push it down too much, this must be turf toe.

As for what I’m now doing to solve this issue, it’s quite a tough one to work on.

The fact that I didn’t realize what I needed to be treating for the first week was a big mistake on my part. That would’ve been crucial healing time I wish I took advantage of.

It’s tough to work on anyway though because every step you take with that foot can be a slight irritation of the tendons you tore with the injury, so it becomes hard to treat.

Most doctors and physical therapists will still recommend the R.I.C.E. protocol even though that should never be considered a treatment. The “rest” portion of that protocol is going to be necessary in terms of taking a break from exercise on that foot but beyond that, ignore the rest.

Just like with any healing process within the body, you’re going to have to activate the tissues in and around the site of the injury if you want to stimulate any of the healing process, otherwise you’re going to allow even more of the surrounding tissues to be damaged. What this means is that some movement and activity is required if you want to heal.

Manual Movement

To get the toe, toe joint, and musculature moving a little bit, you can manually move them around by hand.

One thing I’ve seen recommended several times is to put pressure around the big toe joint with one hand by firmly grabbing the area around it where it’s comfortable, and pulling the toe directly outward. This movement should never hurt but if it does, you should of course stop.

While pulling the toe straight out, you can twist it medially and laterally, or to the inside and the outside to stimulate some activity.

Myofascial Release

For more serious problem-solving and most likely where you’ll see real improvement, we can use myofascial release.

For maximum effect, use a firm foam roller that can support your bodyweight if standing on it or a firm massage ball for smaller muscle groups that need to be loosened up.

This is a way to unglue some of our muscles and fascia that are higher up the foot and leg so we can allow for better circulation, giving improved blood flow to our toes to promote faster healing.

Start close to the site of the injury to see what is painful versus what is just tight. My arch muscles are actually still tight even though I’ve done some myofascial release work on them before.

So I’m going to start by rolling out the bottom of my feet, mainly the innermost arch muscles to loosen them up. Do this all along the inside bottom of your foot all the way to the heel.

Certainly try to roll out around your heel cords and all through the calves because what we really want to do is release all the muscles that eventually connect to that big toe. That’s why we started with the inner arch muscles of the foot and are now continuing up the leg while staying on the inside of it because those are the muscles that directly connect to the site of the injury.

In particular, the flexor hallucis longus, posterior tibialis, and flexor digitorum longus muscles of the calf are the ones we’re looking to release because they run inside the lower calf down the inside of the leg and feed into the arch and big toe muscles, controlling a lot of the movement that happens there.

If we can get these bigger calf muscles moving better, we will also allow better movement of the foot and toes below.

How to treat soccer toe

Soccer players, especially those who frequently play on artificial turf or indoor soccer, are susceptible to turf toe.

Turf toe can occur in sports not played on turf such as tennis and in gymnastics. In some cases the toe joint is sprained (ligaments stretched), but in other cases the big toe is moved so far beyond its normal range it would come out of its socket and dislocate. Oftentimes this injury resulted in cartilage injury (joint damage) and could also create a fracture of the bones under the big toe joint known as sesamoid bones.

Athletes who had severe or multiple injuries tended to develop arthritis, which is basically loss of the joint space between the bones that make up the big toe joint. Over time, these athletes would develop bone spurs, which is the body’s way of protecting the joint from painful motion. This results in loss of big toe motion and is called “hallux limitus” in milder cases and “hallux rigidus” in more severe cases. In some cases, the ensuing bone spurs could break off from continued activity and injury, further damaging the joint.

It soon became clear that due to the many structures of the big toe joint, “turf toe” could be a few different types of injuries — not just one specific condition or anatomical structure. The primary method of prevention is use of stiffer shoes/cleats and taping (particularly for sports where one is barefoot).

Treatment of turf toe depends on the severity of the injury and the specific area injured. The doctor must assess the damaged area and joint stability is critical.

Young athletes should be carefully examined because their bones are softer, and growth plates can be broken or damaged, resulting in fractures. These individuals are at risk for premature arthritis. X-rays are typically ordered. An MRI or CAT scan may be helpful as well. Most turf toe injuries can be treated without surgery. Mild sprains usually need some relative rest, ice and stiffer shoes and/or insoles.

How to treat soccer toe
Often times a specific foot insert (orthosis) or turf toe insole is used to help an athlete return to play. These keep the big toe from bending too much.

Sometimes a cleat is directly under a sesamoid; removing the sesamoid can be helpful. Moderate cases usually need a boot as well as non-weightbearing.

Dislocations that involve joint damage, complete dislocation or sesamoid fractures can be season-ending and may require surgery. Patients who have turf toe injuries should keep track of their symptoms and loss of motion in the long-term, beyond their competitive career to make sure they are not developing significant arthritis. Sometimes surgery is needed and certain procedures for this arthritic condition of the big toe as a result of turf toe do allow patients to return to sports in most cases.

Although your toenails represent a small part of your body, a toenail injury can have a huge impact on your mobility and significantly alter your current way of life. Just consider the pain you experience when stubbing your toe on something as you make your way around a room at night.

That instant, stabbing, shooting pain is just a small example of what a significant toe injury can feel like, not something to be taken lightly. The more prompt you are with your treatment plan, the better when it comes to a toenail injury. No need to let the pain get out of hand.

How to treat soccer toeMedical concept. Foot pain. Body health problem, healthy feet swollen joints or blisters, wounds on skin. Painful barefoot woman at home or office with high heels in the background

Although they are common, a toenail injury does merit prompt attention and sometimes requires nail bed repair or another medical treatment. To get you on the right track, read the following information on identifying common injuries to the nail bed and what you can do about them if they happen to you:

Common Toenail Injuries and How to Treat Them

Ingrown Toenails

This painful condition is common and can affect virtually anyone. When you have an ingrown toenail, the edge of your nail becomes jagged and the nail grows into the sides of your nail bed, causing the nail itself to painfully pierce your skin. If you leave your ingrown toenail untreated, it can eventually lead to an infection. This is, of course, not the ideal course of action.

Look for the following signs to determine if you are experiencing an ingrown toenail:

  • Foul smell in the area.
  • Thick, cracked or yellowing nails.
  • Warmth or heat in and around the area.
  • Bleeding.
  • Built up fluid in the area, could include oozing.
  • Pressure under the nail.
  • Redness or hardening of the area.
  • Swelling.
  • Pain.

How to Treat an Ingrown Toenail

At-Home Treatments: If your ingrown toenail isn’t infected, you can do the following to self-treat the condition at home:

  • Soak: Soak your foot in warm water with Epsom salts to soothe and soften the area. This will also encourage the pus to drain and reduce pain.
  • Combat Infection: To prevent an infection from forming, apply antibiotic lotion or antifungal to the area.
  • Medicate: Alleviate swelling and pain by taking over the counter pain medication.

In-Office Treatments: If your toenail is still painful, infected, or is getting worse, it’s time to see a professional and get medical advice. In-office, your doctor will either partially or fully remove the ingrown nail. Generally, they will numb the area, perform the removal, and then give you post-operative care instructions. That will likely include some ways to prevent an ingrown toenail from occurring again, including advising you to wear the right shoes and socks, as well as trimming or clipping your nails properly and more.


Another common condition affecting your toenails are fungal infections. These often occur as a result of another condition, such as an ingrown toenail, a toenail injury or injuries to the nail bed. Fungus will grow in the area where a nail is loose or has broken the skin. It’s also commonly associated with Athlete’s Foot and diabetes.

Be on the lookout for these symptoms indicating a fungal infection:

  • Cracked or fragile nail.
  • Thick nail.
  • Discolored nail of either white, brown or yellow.

You usually will not experience pain with a fungal infection, unless it becomes severe.

How to Treat a Fungus of the Nail

The easiest way to treat a fungus infection in the toenail is with antifungal treatment. This often in pill form, taken by mouth. In some cases, your doctor might opt to remove the nail in its entirety or to use a laser treatment if common treatments aren’t working.

Subungual Hematoma

This condition sounds serious but is actually pretty commonplace. This is the type of injury you experience when you drop something on your toe and it gets black and blue or falls off altogether. It occurs when the blood vessels break open under the nail, causing blood to pool. In some cases, you can even experience a subungual hematoma due to poor-fitting shoes or due to a physical activity like soccer or basketball that causes your toe to ram into your shoe. It is a mild injury, but still pretty painful.

The following are common symptoms of the condition:

  • Discolored nail.
  • Feeling pressure under the nail.
  • Tender or sore around the nail area.
  • Blood under the nail.

How to Treat a Subungual Hematoma

At-Home: Use the R.I.C.E method for at-home treatment of this condition:

  • Rest: Limit the use of your toe.
  • Ice: Ice the area to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Compression: Apply a wrap to the area to reduce blood flow and limit pain.
  • Elevation: Keep your foot elevated to reduce swelling.

In-Office Treatment: If you don’t experience enough relief with the R.I.C.E treatment, the pain is unbearable or the injury worsens, it’s time to seek medical treatment. To treat subungual hematoma, your doctor might remove the affected nail to reduce the pressure and allow the area to heal. Some doctors might instead try to drain the blood from the area and save the nail, but still relieve the pressure and pain, by making a small hole in the nail.


This is most often considered a skin condition but can also negatively impact the toenails and fingernails. Psoriasis can occur along with fungal infections, skin infections or on its own.

The following are signs to look for that indicate psoriasis of the nail might be present:

  • Damage to the nail, such as pits in the nails.
  • Yellow-red nail discoloration that sort of like oil or blood underneath the nail.
  • White on the nail plate.
  • Furrows or lines across the nail, side-to-side.
  • Skin thickening under the nail.
  • Loose nail. Nail coming out of nail folds.
  • Brittle or crumbling nail.
  • Redness at the bottom of the nail.
  • Black lines tip-to-cuticle.

How to Treat Psoriasis of The Nail

There are no at-home treatments currently available to counteract or treat psoriasis of the nail. In many cases, taking antifungal medication is the best course of action to address psoriasis. Therefore, visiting a podiatrist is wise to address this particular condition.

Your Next Step

If you are experiencing any of the above conditions or other foot-related issues not outlined like a nail bed laceration and need the expert help of a podiatrist, contact us at The Foot and Ankle Group today at 239-936-5400. We aim to get you into the office and treat you the same day, if possible, getting you back on your feet quickly!

How to treat soccer toeToe Injuries – Understanding Soccer Bloody Toenail

Athletes may encounter different types of injuries throughout their life. For participants of strenuous sports such as soccer, injuries to the legs and feet are not uncommon. One such injury is soccer bloody toenail and, contrary to its name, it’s not limited to soccer players.

What is soccer bloody toenail?

Soccer bloody toenail is a fairly simple injury, caused when some external pressure on the foot causes the blood vessels under the toenail to burst. The blood pools below the nail and this internal injury to the nail slowly leads to the loss of the nail. The medical term for this condition of bleeding under the nail is subungual hematoma. Soccer bloody toenail is sometimes called black toenail, runner’s toe, or tennis toe.

How does it occur?

Soccer bloody toenail is caused by trauma to the nail. It can happen when an external pressure is applied to the toe, such as when another player steps on your foot. It can be caused while trying to kick a ball, resulting in your foot scraping the turf. It can even be caused by wearing very tight or ill-fitting shoes. The big toe is the most susceptible to this type of injury due to its larger size.

What are the symptoms of soccer bloody toe?

There are two main symptoms of soccer bloody toe. One is a blue-black discoloration of the area under the nail. The other is a constant severe or light pain in that area. If these two things are happening, it is best to consult a doctor and get rid of the bloody toenail.

How can you avoid toe injuries during sports?

For an athlete, especially a soccer player, it is really tough to avoid soccer bloody toenail. But there are a few things you can do to help prevent it. While you can’t always stop other players from stepping on your foot, you can take these precautions:

  • Buy the proper shoe size. Neither too big nor too small is good for your toes.
  • Choose shoes that are sturdy enough to avoid getting damaged easily while playing.
  • Trim your toenails regularly. They shouldn’t be allowed to grow too long.
  • Though it may not seem a big deal, wear the proper size socks. Too small can add extra pressure on the toenails. Too big can cause bunching in the toe of the shoe.

How is soccer bloody toenail treated?

Getting the proper treatment to heal a soccer bloody toenail is very important. If there is an infection that has spread, the podiatrist will likely prescribe antibiotics to help in reducing the problem. It may be necessary to drain the blood out, sometimes by cutting the toenail. Some treatments you can try at home include: