Home treatment can help relieve toe pain and may prevent a bunion from getting worse. Home treatment includes:
Avoiding activities that put pressure on your big toe and foot. Don't give up exercise because of toe pain. Try activities that don't put a lot of pressure on your foot, such as swimming or bicycling.
Wearing roomy shoes that have wide and deep toe boxes (the area that surrounds the toes), low or flat heels, and good arch supports. Avoid tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes that put pressure on the big toe joint.
Apply ice to the joint for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. Elevate your foot so that your toe is higher than your heart.
Try bunion pads, arch supports, or custom-made supports (orthotics) placed just behind the big toe joint on the bottom of your foot. This redistributes your weight while you are walking and takes pressure off your big toe. Ask your doctor to help you choose the right kind of pads. One review of studies has shown that compared with no treatment, orthotics reduced bunion pain after 6 months of use but made no difference in pain after 12 months of use.1
Put moleskin or felt patches over or around pressure areas, to protect the bunion from being rubbed by your shoes.
Stretch the parts of your shoes that rub on painful areas. Look for a shoe repair shop or cobbler that stretches shoes, or ask your doctor to recommend one. You may also want to find a shoe manufacturer that makes special or custom shoes for people with foot problems.
For children with bunions, using orthotic insoles to correct a walk where the foot rolls inward (excessive pronation) is questionable. Some studies show that bunions in children may not be related to pronation.1
Children who have bunions should see a doctor if foot pain is limiting their activity. In some cases, the doctor may recommend surgery.