If you have bunions, you probably spend a good amount of time researching how to reduce the discomfort that comes with these bony bumps at the base of your big toe.
One big factor, of course, is your footwear.
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Sandals aren't always the best choice, as they tend to offer less support than other types of shoes, which can worsen bunions, says Elizabeth Bass Daughtry, DPM, a podiatrist with Foot & Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic in Dunn, North Carolina.
What's more: "Multiple issues such as blisters, joint inflammation and painful skin lesions can also develop from wearing a shoe, such as a sandal, that has a strap that comes across the bony prominence," Dr. Daughtry says.
That doesn't mean you can't wear sandals with bunions — you just need to pick the right pair.
The Best Sandals for Bunions
- Best Overall: NAOT Kayla Sandal ($139.95, NAOT)
- Best on a Budget: Teva Women's Hurricane Drift Ankle-Strap Sandal (From $35.73, Amazon)
- Best for Walking: Skechers Women's Reggae-Trailway Sandal Flip-Flop (From $27.80, Amazon)
- Best for Hiking: Kuru Footwear Tread Sandal ($145, Kuru Footwear)
- Best for Wide Feet: Vionic Women's Terra Flat Sandal (from $62.97, Amazon)
- Best Orthotic: Fulton Athletic Insole ($48, Walk Fulton)
- Best for Bunions and Hammertoes: Orthofeet Paloma Sandal ($104.95, Orthofeet)
- Best for Bunions and Plantar Fasciitis: Orthofeet Hydra Sandals ($104.95, Orthofeet)
- Best for Bunions and Flat Feet: Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed ($145, Zappos)
- Best Wedge: NAOT Elegant Eliana Sandal (159.95, NAOT)
- Best Dress Sandal: Bared Footwear Murrelet ($249, Bared Footwear)
- Best for Men: Tread Labs Men's Covelo Sandal ($110, Tread Labs)
How We Chose
We chatted with a podiatrist, who shared her top recommendations for sandals that won't aggravate your bunion and may even help relieve some discomfort. We relied on her expertise and used the following criteria to narrow down our top picks:
Find more information on how we choose and cover products here.
A Note on Language
Sandal brands tend to market their products to men or women, which is why we've included this language below. However, we encourage people to choose the shoe that best suits them, regardless of marketing lingo around gender.
1. NAOT Kayla Sandal
- Backstrap for support
- Anatomic cork and latex footbed
- Soles may wear out quickly
Not only is this sandal functional, fashion-forward and versatile (because it comes in more than 20 different shades), but it also has a shape that will accommodate any foot structure — even with a bunion deformity.
"With a backstrap to support the heel and wide forefoot straps that fit around the bony prominence, this is a great option for women looking for a dress sandal that is comfortable but fashionable," Dr. Daughtry says.
As a cherry on top, this shoe was given the stamp of approval by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) for promoting good foot health.
2. Teva Women's Hurricane Drift Akle-Strap Sandal
- Hook-and-loop closure
- Adjustable straps
- Tends to run big
Sandals designed for foot deformities like bunions often come with a higher price tag, mostly because they're higher quality than other sandals. That's what makes this Teva sandal so special.
It retails for less than $50, yet it offers many features that can alleviate bunion-related issues. It's lightweight, roomy and offers adjustable straps and a hook-and-loop closure so you can make sure it fits just right.
3. Skechers Women's Reggae-Trailway Sandal Flip-Flop
- Rubber traction
- Webbing fabric
- Can cause irritation if it runs too large
If you're looking for a sporty, ergonomic sandal for the summer or a warm-weather vacation, these casual cross-strap sandals are a great choice.
They feature patterned webbing fabric with soft suede inside and a contoured footbed to provide maximum comfort, which means you can walk in them for hours without bunion pain.
They're also shock-absorbing, which comes in handy if you plan on clocking miles.
4. Kuru Footwear Tread Sandal
- Ankle, heel and arch support
- Durable design
- Not easy to break in
Sometimes you don't feel like wearing full-on hiking shoes, but would prefer a sandal that offers adequate support to allow you to do your thing.
This pick from Kuru Footwear offers all the key features that make for maximum comfort and minimize any pain associated with bunions — we're talking arch, ankle and heel support.
They help keep you strapped in thanks to an advanced hook and loop closure and are even waterproof should you encounter any streams or puddles along the trail.
5. Vionic Women's Terra Flat Sandal
- Podiatrist designed
- Three-zone comfort
- Wide sizing offered
- Velcro strap opens easily
Deeper and wider shoes are always a great choice when you have a bunion, Dr. Daughtry says. The more narrow a shoe is, the less accommodating it is for a wider foot structure or one with foot deformities.
Not only does this Vionic sandal have an open front that doesn't pigeon-hole your foot, it also comes in wide versions for each and every size.
The footbed was actually designed by a podiatrist and offers comfort and support for those with foot deformities, including bunions.
6. Fulton Athletic Insole
- Custom molding
- Shock absorption
- Run small
Orthotics are inserts that go the extra mile when it comes to providing adequate support for your feet. They especially come in handy if you have foot deformities like bunions.
Fulton offers shock-absorbing insoles crafted from supportive and eco-friendly materials that actually remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere (how cool is that?).
They're made by hand in Portugal and offer maximum shock absorption, custom molding and ultimate comfort.
It takes about 10 hours of wear, but they ultimately provide a fit that's unique to your foot.
7. Orthofeet Paloma Sandal
- Padded interior
- Cushioned sole
- Orthotic insoles
- Limited colors available
Hammertoes are another common foot problem marked by an abnormal bend in one of the toes that leads to an imbalance of the tiny muscles and ligaments that maintain the toe's structure.
As with bunions, hammertoes can't always be prevented; sometimes they are caused by genetics. The right shoe, however, can make a big difference.
This Paloma Sandal by Orthofeet cushions the foot thanks to premium orthotic insoles and an arch booster that actually realigns the foot and body posture. Its padded interior cuts down on irritation, and its cushioned insole provides adequate comfort.
(Psst: Check out our full roundup of the best shoes for hammertoes.)
8. Orthofeet Hydra Sandals
- Designed for foot ailments
- 60-day comfort guarantee
- Arch support
- Cushioned sole
- Limited colors available
These sandals are especially designed to support feet with myriad anatomical issues, including bunions and plantar fasciitis.
They have cushioned soles that have a mild rocker that gives you a little boost while you're walking and a rubber outsole that helps you grip the ground.
Their two-way strap system helps facilitate simple on-off maneuvering and their soft, padded fabric cuts down on irritation.
9. Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed
- Anatomically correct footbed
- Natural heel profile
- Deep heel cup
- Limited sizes available
Bunions actually develop from the flattening of the front part of the foot (or pronation) movement during the gait cycle, Dr. Daughtry says, so it can be helpful to wear shoes that help correct that flatness.
These shoes have a deep arch, which helps support the natural curvature of your foot.
Their anatomically correct cork footbed helps distribute your weight evenly so you feel well-balanced and fully in control of your movements.
The flexible EVA outsole is lightweight and shock-absorbing to ensure durability through years of use.
(Psst: See our full list of the best shoes for flat feet.)
10. NAOT Elegant Eliana Sandal
- Back strap for support
- Anatomic cork and latex footbed
- APMA seal of approval
- Limited sizes available
Despite wedge sandals being challenging to find in a style that provides comfort, true to their brand, NAOT delivers with the Elegant Eliana Sandal.
It has a slingback design that provides comfort and a double hook and loop strap that makes for easy on-off.
The latex footbed molds to the shape of your foot and supports the arch well.
Like many other NAOT shoes, this one gets the APMA seal of approval for promoting good foot health.
11. Bared Footwear Murrelet Sandal
- Adjustable buckle
- Low heel
- Made from high-quality leather
- Can be difficult to buckle
- Not widely available
Dress sandals that offer adequate support for people with bunions or any other foot ailments are tough to find.
Though Bared Footwear is a relatively new company to the United States, it was created by a female podiatrist in Australia and offers women's and men's shoes that have excellent arch support and are very comfortable and fashion-forward.
Dr. Daughtry is a big fan of the Murrelet sandal, which comes in a basic black and pairs well with dresses, shorts, jeans or slacks while offering space for bunions.
The addition of a metatarsal pad helps offload pressure and stress on the forefoot in general.
12. Tread Labs Men's Covelo Sandal
- Arch support
- Replaceable rubber outsole
- Runs small (size up)
While bunions are more common in women, according to InformedHealth.org, men suffer from them too, and owning the right kind of sandal that offers support for this bone deformity can make all the difference.
This one from Tread Labs offers maximum arch support, a sturdy midsole and a replaceable rubber outsole. The side buckle allows you to adjust the fit and the open back makes for an easy on-off.
What to Look for in Sandals for Bunions
Proper cushioning and padding in sandals is beneficial for bony prominences. This, Dr. Daughtry explains, is due to the various foot deformities that can occur with bunions, as the padding helps protect skin from blistering and corn or callus formation.
"Forefoot and heel areas naturally lose their elasticity and fat over time, just like shoes, so finding a shoe that offers this as an option is always a plus," she adds.
It can be difficult to find a sandal that offers adequate arch support, but it is important to do so, especially if you have a bunion.
Dr. Daughtry recommends seeking out a brand that offers the ability to add insoles or makes a sandal with built-in arch support or padding in the central arch area (metatarsal padding), as this will limit excessive pressure on the forefoot and prevent excessive pronation or flattening of the arch leading to progression or worsening of bunions.
It's important to select a sandal wide enough to accommodate the extra room taken up by your bunion. For this reason, it's important to understand the width of footwear needed to fit your specific foot — bunion included.
Unsure of the width of your foot? You can always take a pencil and paper and trace the outside of your foot to better visualize and measure the width.
Just as with width, the depth of a shoe matters when you're dealing with a bunion.
"Skin irritation or pain when walking can be avoided if the style of the sandal is made to accommodate for the bony protrusion of foot deformities," notes Dr. Daughtry. "The thing to be careful of with shoes that are deeper in regards to sandals is the fact that straps should fit across the foot snug enough that the foot does not slide around, as this makes the shoe more difficult to walk in but also can cause additional friction."
When to See a Podiatrist
If, at any point, your bunion is causing you debilitating pain that affects your ability to carry out day-to-day activities, it's time to see a podiatrist who can better guide you toward a solution that can alleviate your discomfort.
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