Trying to avoid bunion surgery

Protect your bunion and avoid bunion surgery. Your skin is at greatest risk and the tissues that lie under the skin. Local protection using a felt dressing is discussed with the support of a video made for consultingfootpain. If we can avoid  surgery by protecting the area of the deformity called the bunion, this will help keep the local skin free from irritation and discomfort. I have prepared some tips to protect the skin overlying the painful bump. You will hopefully find the ideal footwear to stop that local irritation, but the pad (adhesive dressing) will act as a first-aid dressing.  So upload my 6-minute film clicking on the red word video before you read this sheet.

see film protect your bunion

Special dressings

To make you own dressing use semi-compressed felt bought on-line or from a pharmacy outlet. You will need to know how to make the dressing which you can keep on for up to 2 days. If you retain the adhesive in place for longer than a few days there can be a small risk of skin damage. Never reapply a dressing especially if it becomes wet. Felt is perfect because it moulds around the deformed area bedding down to provide comfort within shoes. The pad won’t slip and will stay where you place it. You must however, ensure you have the right location. It is best to shape your own pad from a square of felt using sharp scissors. You will cut out a small cavity without going through the felt on the adhesive side. Leave enough sticky to contact the skin. If it is infected or the skin is broken treat first with antiseptic and a light dressing. Do not use felt until the skin is healed and stronger. If the pad become wet replace it for a fresh dressing pad.


A swelling may relate to a fluid filled sac called a ganglion or bursa. The hard bone lying under the skin is due to the deformity and joint dislocating. Surgery is indicated for repeat infections, continuous pain, if you cannot walk or find pain when at rest. Bunions frequently result in second toes being affected. These may become hammered and maletted in shape

What the dressing pad does not do

The pad will not correct the bunion. It will buy you time and make you more comfortable until the skin settles. Always seek professional help in the case of infection or painful skin changes persist. Avoid shoes with seams and stitches overlying the side of the great toe or top of the toe. Do not apply to chilblains.


Condition: Great toe pain over the enlarged or distorted joint called hallux valgus also useful for a bunion (bump) on top of the toe joint
Name of pad: Oval or egg-shaped pad with a special cut out or cavity which does not go through the felt so that it leaves a small amount of material overlying the skin.
The objective of treatment: To prevent pressure from the shoe against the skin where there is a lump. This will help the skin to heal if it is damaged. The pad can be used on the side of the big toe or on top of the big toe joint.
Limitations of treatment: Can not be used on acute gout, where there is severe swelling. DO NOT use in cases of poor circulation or where there is an infection or weak skin
Material: Felt 4 – 7mm hypoallergenic backing adhesive, scissors (sharp/blunt 6″), card for a template (optional) see the film. 
Location: Make sure the cavity is the right size and bevel the edges at approximately 45 degrees. See the diagrams below

Other resources available for bunions on this website

Hallux Valgus known as bunion
Bunion surgery the best age?
Self-help and the bunion book
The Stiff Big Toe Joint
Fact sheet and bunion surgery

 Thanks for reading ”Protect your bunion Surgery’  by David Tollafield

Published by Busypencilcase Reflective Communications Est. 2015

5th May 2021



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