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The Causes of Bunions & Remedies For Treating A Bunion

Updated on September 16, 2012 | Source

Onion or Bunion?

A bunion (nothing to do with onion really, but it does look like an onion sometimes) is a thickened swelling at the base of the big toe caused by a bone deformity. This kind of deformity is usually minor causing the joint at the base of the big toe to project outwards. This forces the tip of the toe to turn inwards towards the other toes on the foot.

Bunions causes thickening of the soft tissue, known as bursitis, and a bony overgrowth at the base of the big toe. This condition often becomes inflamed and painful, and makes it difficult for a person to walk normal. The bone deformity is scientifically known as "hallux valgus, and as a result of this, the pressure on the deformity which surrounds the tissue on the toe begins to thicken.

So what actually causes a bunion to occur on the big toe? Bunions are often caused by tight shoes, especially when walking with them for a long time. This condition is very common in young women when they wear shoes that are too tight or maybe pointed, and also for those who wear high heels daily. When the big toe is strained excessively, it produces a cushion of fluid that is held in a bursa (or sac) that surrounds the joint of the toe. Also, but very rare, the constant rubbing of tight shoes on the skin over a bunion may cause the to get worse and lead to a bacterial infection on the skin.

Bunions are also hereditary according to research. These people may need surgery to get rid of a bunion permanently. Despite any other causes of bunions, it is mainly the footwear which people choose to wear, so it's very important to choose the right shoes and the right size to prevent bunions from occurring.

If no attention is paid to a bunion, the condition may worsen gradually. It is best to reduce the pain by wearing soft comfortable shoes with quality cushioning. Also shoes with special toe pads that straighten the big toe may be beneficial. So the best prevention of bunions is not to strain the big toe too much, in other words, by not wearing high-heeled shoes for long periods of time, or any other tight-fitting shoes for both men and women. Profession help should be sought if you've developed a bunion which is constantly and extremely painful and the feet becomes deformed.

What can be done if a bunion develops?

  • Try resting the feet whenever possible. Avoid wearing tight and high-heeled shoes, instead choose wide shoes with low heels. For men, wearing running shoes is ideal because they have more space for the toes to move freely and also have a better cushion.
  • You can soak you foot in lukewarm water with Epsom salts mixed in it. The salts will help to ease the pain and reduce further inflammation. If you don't have Epsom salts in the home, then plain warm water may be used instead to notice good results.
  • Applying a heat pad to the foot will increase the blood flow to the toe. This will also relieve pain and discomfort caused by the bunion. Heat pads are available in pharmacies.
  • As well as using a heating pad, an ice pack is also great for treating a bunion. It also prevents further inflammation and reduces pain. Apply the ice for 10 minutes, and then remove the ice to allow the foot to warm up naturally. For people with circulation problems or diabetes, avoid using ice for any kind of problems in the foot. It is advisable to consult your doctor.
  • Wear sandals in the house because it is much gentler and kinder on the feet, and also relaxes the big toe significantly. The toe will get more air and take the pressure off the bunion. If you prefer, you can walk around the house barefoot which can make the healing process speed up.
  • Another good option is to by sling pads or toe spacers from pharmacies. Placing these in between the big toe and the second toe will indeed take the pressure off the big toe. This will reduce the pain and discomfort.

Other Home Remedies

  • A piece of ginger or as ginger whole powder has anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in reducing bunion pains. Add a small piece of ginger or 1-2 teaspoons of ginger powder in brewed tea with added honey. You can also use ginger powder as a seasoning in your meals. Another option is to form the ginger powder into a paste using water, and then applying the ginger paste onto the bunion twice a day.
  • Clove oil is usually for toothaches, however, clove oil can be effectively applied to a bunion. Moisten a cotton ball with clove oil and apply directly to the bunion for a few minutes. Do this twice a day to achieve comfort.
  • The gel from an aloe vera plant can be used to reduce the redness and pain of a bunion. Apply the gel twice a day to notice the results. Aloe vera gel is available in many drug stores or you can grow your own plants in the home.
  • Red pepper, beneficial for its capsicum components is also great for treating bunions. Red pepper has anti-inflammatory pain reduction properties which can function to reduce pain. You can eat half a red pepper with a meal and use the other half to rub on the bunion to gain comfort.
  • Massaging the foot including the big toe with the bunion using castor oil can help reduce the pain. You can use castor or any other natural oil to massage your foot daily.
  • If you have a foot-bath such as a foot-spa. you can crush 3-4 aspirins and add them to the basin filled with warm water. Soak your feet in the aspirin foot bath as long as necessary to relieve pain and discomfort. Aspirin may cause skin irritation in rare cases, but if this happens and you experience discomfort, then discontinue using this method immediately.

If on the other hand you wish to get rid of the bunion completely due to the pain and discomfort, then your only option is to have them surgically removed by professional surgeons, but there may be risks so acquire good information about it. But with these remedies, you can help yourself ease the pain of a bunion should you not want them to be removed permanently, the choice is yours.


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    • Lose the Fungus profile image

      Lose the Fungus 5 years ago

      aziza786, thanks for the info, and I agree with manthy about this helping a lot of readers. What I'm wondering though is, if bunions can be genetic, would there be a way to test your DNA to see if you would develop a bunion?

      I think every podiatrist in the world would love to be able to have that ability. Then they would be able to tell their patients about their bunion growth before the bunion protrudes too much. Right now bunion surgery is supposed to be minimally invasive. Take a look at (, even with all the other types of bunion treatments out there.

      I will recommend this article...

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Voted up & useful - Thanks for the info I have had these in the past and I know that this hub will help many readers