Nail & Skin Disorders

What Are Myxoid Cysts?

Myxoid cysts are small, rounded deformities that occur around the fingers and toes. Though often harmless, a visit to the doctor is still suggested to rule out any larger issue.

Like most cysts, the myxoid cyst is generally painless, though complaints of aching may be voiced as cysts increase in size. It’s important to note that even without pain, care should be taken when bumps occur around the nail. Clients should always seek a medical evaluation because tumors, either benign or malignant, can also cause bumps on, or surrounding, the nails, cautions Dr. Aronberg.

Often the term “cyst” causes alarm and concern, but “it’s important to realize that these aren’t really ‘cysts,’ in that there is no cyst wall to the lesion, but rather it’s an area of collected gelatinous material,” says Dr. Aronberg. So, in actuality, these are “pseudocysts.” This is important to note because it means the cyst is treated differently than, say, an ovarian cyst. “A biopsy is not necessary, because there is no cyst to dissect out,” he says. “The typical clear gelatinous material that is expressed out of the cyst when they are lanced is sufficient to accurately diagnose them.”

Doctors treat the area with one of a variety of methods, including freezing, intralesional injections of cortisone, or multiple incisions and draining. “I will often have my patients do their own incision and draining of the cyst, followed by compressive dressings, though there is concern about the introduction of an infection into the site,” says Dr. Aronberg, “The average number of ‘stabbings’ before the area finally scars down is about six,” he says. Even after treatment, it is possible for the cyst to reappear.

Though patients may be able to drain the cyst themselves, it is still wise to have the growth checked by a doctor before making the initial incision to be sure the growth is actually a myxoid cyst and not something more serious. There are times when the cyst occurs directly under the nail plate, which may require the removal of part of the nail.   


If a client comes in with either a ganglion or myxoid cyst, educate her on the possibility of it being a cyst and suggest she consult her family doctor or dermatologist. Continue with services, being mindful to work gently around the cyst.

Though it’s possible for clients to puncture and drain the cyst at home, it’s not advisable for the tech to do it in the salon in case an infection develops after the client leaves the salon. “I would doubt that the cyst would rupture while the tech is working on the nail, as these are not really very superficial,” says Dr. Aronberg. However, in the unlikely event that the cyst does rupture, techs should squeeze out all of the gelatinous material, clean the wound, and apply a clean gauze to the area.


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