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6 Best Sandals for Bunions in 2023

By Steven Gershman DPM / May 04, 2023

When I think of bunions, I think back to when I was growing up and can still picture seeing old women with shoes cut out on the big toe side and very wide feet. Where the shoe was cut out, there was a bump on the side of the foot sticking out. 

In my first few years of practice, I had some older women patients coming in with similar shoe modifications made. Thankfully, now I no longer see this as there are shoes available that preclude the need to cut them open to handle bunions on feet. 

Before I dive deeper into what causes bunions, how to prevent bunions from getting worse, which treatments are available to you, and what footwear design features can help alleviate pain and discomfort, and even avoid bunions altogether, here are my recommendations for the best summer shoes for bunions.


6 best sandals and flip flops for bunions

What makes the following summer shoes good for bunions are the key design features they all share: wider widths, round and wide toe box (where relevant), orthotic insoles with anatomical arch support, a deep shoe construction, soft and seam-free interiors, stretch fabric uppers or adjustable strap, and a low heel to toe drop.


Best women’s sandals for bunions


Gaya brown

Why you’ll like it

  • Toe post design means no pressure on bunions
  • Open back design for easy wear



  • Sizes: 5-12
  • Widths: Standard (B) - Wide (D)
  • Upper materials: synthetic


Flip flops are often considered to be bad for bunions because they provide little to no arch support and can cause the big toe to slide out of alignment.

However, the Gaya toe post sandals are a different story.

They feature a built-in arch support that keeps the foot in alignment and an adjustable strap across the instep that secures the fit, helping to reduce pain and inflammation in bunions.

They also have an ergonomic, rubber outsole that helps to absorb shock, thus reducing the impact on the bottom of the foot, and their lightweight design reduces fatigue in the feet.

In addition, the toe post design means nothing covers the bunions so the shoe won’t make the bunion worse. 

Available in brown, blue and pewter.



Lyra Blue

Why you’ll like it

  • Lightweight
  • Stretch uppers


  • Sizes: 5-12
  • Widths: Standard (B) - Wide (D)
  • Upper materials: stretch knit


The Lyra are great stretch shoes for bunions

These sandals are designed with a back strap that allows you to adjust the fit and keep your heel in place to prevent it from slipping. They also have a soft and thin toe post that won’t cause any friction or discomfort between your toes.

The stretchable uppers can easily accommodate many forefoot conditions, including bunions. Plus, the use of breathable materials provides ventilation to the feet, ensuring they remain healthy and odor free. 

Available in blue, gray and pink.




Why you’ll like it

  • Adjustable straps on both sides of the sandal
  • Timeless design



  • Sizes: 5-12
  • Widths: Standard (B) - Wide (D)
  • Upper materials: soft leather


The stylish Paloma sandals are constructed with one adjustable strap across the instep and another adjustable strap across the toe area. This allows you to customize the fit to accommodate your bunion and ensure that your foot is not cramped, reducing the risk of pain and inflammation.

In addition, the foam padded soft leather uppers adds a layer of protection, ensuring that your skin remains healthy and free from blisters or abrasions. 

Whether you are spending the day at the beach, strolling through the park, or running errands, these sandals offer a stylish and practical option for those with bunions. 

Available in camel and black.


Best men’s sandals for bunions


Gemini Brown

Why you’ll like it

  • Multiple straps
  • Soft leather uppers



  • Sizes: 7-14
  • Widths: Standard (D) - Extra Wide (4E)
  • Upper materials: soft leather


The Gemini sandals are designed with multiple straps that offer a truly snug fit and are lined with stretchy material that conforms to the shape of your foot. 

There are two instep straps that open on both sides, which is very helpful in general but specifically for those who find it challenging to reach the external part of the shoe. 

In addition, there’s a third strap at the back of the sandal that allows for easy adjustment in the heel area. And finally, to accommodate any bone deformities, there is also a fully openable strap across the toes.

Available in brown and black. 




Why you’ll like it

  • Soft and thin toe post
  • Outsole with advanced grip 



  • Sizes: 7-14
  • Widths: Standard (D) - Wide (2E)
  • Upper materials: soft leather


The Eldorados are not your regular flip flops. 

The velcro strap across the instep allows you to secure the fit and enhance stability, while the toe post is intentionally thin and soft to prevent any irritation and discomfort between the toes.

Additionally, the sole is not only cushioned, but also constructed with a mild rocker design that helps propel your foot forward to allow you to walk with less effort. 

Seeing as it is a toe post design, your bunions won’t be pressed against anything.

Available in black. 




Why you’ll like it

  • Bungee laces for a personalized fit
  • Stretchable uppers



  • Sizes: 7-14
  • Widths: Standard (D) - Extra Wide (4E)
  • Upper materials: soft leather


The closed toe Taurus sandals feature adjustable bungee laces and a hidden heel strap that offer a customizable fit and make it easy and quick to put them on and take off. These adjustable laces and strap also provide a secure fit.

The stretchable uppers of these sandals can easily accommodate a variety of foot shapes and conditions, while the seamless, soft foam interior helps to prevent chafing and irritation that can often occur with more rigid shoe materials. 

Available in gray.


What is a bunion?

A bunion is a bump on the big toe side of the foot (medial side) just below the big toe. This bump is actually bone, the head of a bone in the foot called the first metatarsal. There can be an inflamed soft tissue sac of fluid called a bursa over the bone, but the bump is bone. 

In general, this bump is in concert with a wide splay foot, so that it protrudes out even more. The first metatarsal bone, just behind the big toe, actually moves away from the remainder of the metatarsals and the head of the bone protrudes out.

In most cases, the bunion is part of a more complex deformity called hallux abducto valgus, or hallux valgus. 

Hallux is the medical term for the big toe. Abducto or abduction is the term for the big toe deviating toward the small toe side of the foot (lateral side). It can be severe enough that the big toe impinges on the second toe, sometimes going under the second toe and sometimes going over the second toe. This can create a secondary foot condition: a hammertoe of the second toe, which is a deformity of the toe where it buckles and raises up in the middle, and the end of the toe pulls down. 

Finally, valgus means a rotation of the big toe, where the bottom of the toe rotates up to end up on the side facing the second toe.

Does wearing sandals help bunions?

Wearing sandals alone may not necessarily help bunions. However, wearing appropriate footwear, including sandals that provide adequate support and cushioning, can help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with bunions and prevent them from getting worse.

Sandals with a wide toe box can help reduce pressure on the affected area, while sandals with a contoured footbed and arch support can help distribute weight more evenly across the foot and prevent overpronation, which can aggravate bunions.

Again, it is also best to choose sandals with adjustable straps that can be tightened or loosened to ensure a comfortable fit and prevent rubbing or pressure on the bunion.

What causes a bunion?

There are a few reasons for a bunion to form.

  • Genetics. In many cases it is a genetic tendency passed down from generation to generation, more commonly in women. Theory is that there are biomechanical flaws in the foot altering the foot function, leading to over pronation and resulting in abnormal stresses while walking or standing. Over time, this causes damage and stretch to the ligaments that hold the bones together, allowing increased motion in the foot and a resulting shift in the bones, causing the deformity.
  • Gender. Women generally have more flexible ligaments to allow them to give birth, and are more prone to this occurring. Ligaments stretch more during pregnancy, adding to the looseness.
  • Ill-fitting shoes. To add insult to injury, many women's shoes are a major contributor to the deformity, as they often squeeze the toes together due to tight narrow toe boxes often found on many fashionable shoes. This constant squeezing is like braces on teeth that shift the teeth through constant pressure. 


High heels add even more force on the forefoot, which exacerbates the deforming force of the narrow shoe toe box. 

While shoes by themselves probably don't cause bunions, they do speed up the formation and add to the amount of deviation of the bones, causing more severe bunions.

Tailor’s Bunion

Before I go further on bunions, there is another deformity that is often related to and can be found in conjunction with hallux abducto valgus. 

This deformity has many different names, including tailor's bunion, bunionette, bunion on the little toe and pinky toe. 

The term tailor's bunion came about due to tailors sitting crossed legged to sew in ancient times, causing a bump on the small toe side of the foot. In effect, this deformity is a mirror image of the bunion on the big toe.

Similar to Hallux valgus, where the big toe deviates toward the second toe, in a tailor's bunion the fifth toe moves toward the fourth toe. In many cases, there are bunions on both sides of the foot as the same forces that cause bunions also cause tailor's bunions. The result is a very wide splay foot with the big toe and small toe deviated toward the middle of the foot. This type of foot has major issues fitting shoes.

Bunion symptoms

Bunions can hurt for several reasons.

  • Pressure and irritation. Pressure on the bump itself from shoes, as most shoes don't allow enough room for the protruding bump or bumps on both sides of the foot. In these cases, the bunion bump becomes irritated by the shoe rubbing and can be inflamed and painful. This is the most common symptom.
  • Big toe joint. The abnormal big toe position causes damage to the joint and its cartilage, causing jamming of the joint, arthritis and pain.
  • Hammertoe formation. Sometimes, a bunion can create a hammertoe on the second toe from the big toe impinging on it. This hammertoe can cause pain from the shoe rubbing its top as it sticks up in the shoe, and from the damaged and inflamed joint that results from the deformity.
  • Gait alteration. Bunions can change a person’s gait due to the abnormal shape of the forefoot which destabilizes it, reducing its ability to function normally. This change in gait can cause pain in the foot, the knees, hips, and back.

How to treat bunions

The many techniques available to correct a bunion and tailor's bunion are beyond the scope of this blog, however, the basic principle is to alleviate pain. 

When dealing with bunions and tailor's bunions, the only true treatment is surgery to repair the deformity. Every surgeon evaluates the individual patient to decide which procedure to recommend. 

If you are considering bunion surgery, ask for a full explanation of the proposed surgical plan. Bunionectomies are performed by podiatrists quite frequently, as well as by orthopedists who are foot and ankle specialists. 

Shoes for bunions

Many patients prefer to avoid surgery for several reasons. So, the question is how do I, as a podiatrist, relieve bunion pain without surgery? It all starts with SHOES. 

The best shoes and sandals for bunions will have the following features:

  • Width. I recommend Extra Wide shoes and sometimes Extra Extra Wide shoes to accommodate the wide splay foot that develops with bunions and tailor's bunions. The wide width will not squeeze the foot and create a pressure free environment for the bunion. Your best bet is to look at orthopedic brands that specialize in wide-width footwear.
  • Toe box. The other key feature is not just the width but also the shape of the toe box in the front of the shoe. The toe box, which houses the bunion, has to be round and not pointed. Also, the toe box needs to be high to accommodate the often related hammertoe on the second toe, which protrudes up.In addition, the big toe also can stick up with a bunion and so the shoe needs extra height in the toe box. Look for round, wide and roomy toe boxes that are also tall. 
  • Orthotic insole. Orthopedic shoe companies design shoes with built in orthotic insoles, which help in stabilizing the deformed foot, especially where there is excess pronation. An orthotic can slow down the continued worsening of the deformity and reduce pain by redistributing forces on the damaged forefoot joints.
  • Extra depth. A deep shoe construction along the entire shoe is also a big feature that is required for bunion accommodation. An extra depth shoe generally has more total room and the ability to handle an insert. 
  • Soft and seam-free interiors. Having a soft, seamless inner lining that is padded with foam, and a flexible outer material or uppers without overlays, provides gentle contact with the bunion and helps relieve bunion pain.
  • Stretch fabric uppers. When the shoes are constructed with materials that are flexible and stretch, they conform to the contours of the foot, as well as the bunion bump, and don’t apply any pressure on it. 
  • Heel to toe drop. The best shoes need to be low to the ground with low heels, as any heel height is counter-productive to a forefoot with any bunion type . If the heel is elevated even a small amount, extra force is put on the forefoot, jamming it forward and causing stress to the already damaged joints. This  further destroys cartilage and adds to the deformity, speeding up the process of more deformity and causing more pain.
  • Heel counter.Shoes should also have a firm heel counter and firm outsole for stability. Pronation, which is excess motion of the foot, causes bunions to form and continue to progress. So, the shoe needs to be stable to reduce the pronation motion.

Can you wear sandals if you have bunions?

Whether or not you can wear sandals if you have bunions depends on the style of sandals you are considering wearing.

If your bunions are causing significant pain or discomfort, it's best to avoid sandals that rub or put pressure on the affected area. Additionally, if your bunions are located on the big toe joint, sandals with a narrow or pointed toe box may exacerbate the problem.

Instead, look for sandals with a wide toe box, a contoured footbed, stretch materials and adjustable straps, to ensure a comfortable fit and minimize any rubbing or pressure on your bunions.

How to prevent bunions

Is there a way to prevent bunions? Yes and no.

Yes, you can slow down the progression and severity of the deformity, and no, in most cases if the tendency is there to form bunions, it will still occur regardless. 

To slow down the progression and amount of deformity it still comes down to shoes. Poorly made or fit shoes, with high heels and narrow toe boxes, will speed up the process and add to the deformity. Once the joint position changes from these bad shoes it is PERMANENT.