Nail & Skin Disorders

Myxoid Cysts

Myxoid cysts are small, rounded, mucous-filled deformities that occur around the fingers and toes.

What is it?

A myxoid cyst, also called a digital mucous cyst, is identified by the clear mucous that fills it. It’s a firm, smooth, rounded bump on the skin, often having a bluish tint. Inside, it is filled with clear, sticky, gelatinous fluid. The cysts appear most often on the fingers but can also show up on the toes. It generally occurs in the proximal nail fold (the skin surrounding the cuticle). It is usually painless, though it may ache as it increases in size.

How do you get it?

Cysts form from some sort of minor trauma to the site. The trauma can be caused by a repetitious act, including something as simple as typing or even repetitive rubbing of the area. A client may not even be able to identify the cause.

How is it treated?

A biopsy is not necessary because the clear gelatinous material that is expressed out of the cyst when it is lanced is sufficient to accurately diagnose it and rule out something more serious. Once diagnosed, doctors treat the area with one of a variety of methods, including freezing, intralesional injections of cortisone, or multiple incisions and draining. Even after treatment, it is possible for the cyst to reappear. There are times when the cyst occurs directly under the nail plate, which may require the removal of part of the nail.

What can a tech do?

Clients should always seek a medical evaluation to rule out something more serious because tumors, either benign or malignant, can also cause bumps on, or surrounding, the nails. If a client comes in with a 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. In the unlikely event the cyst ruptures in the salon, techs should squeeze out all of the gelatinous material, clean the wound, and apply a clean gauze to the area.

What else?

The cyst may grow in a spot on the finger that is far enough away from the nail fold to prevent the nail from becoming distorted, but many times the cyst will cause the nail to change shape. When the cyst rests on top of the nail matrix, a depression or groove occurs on the nail plate because of the pressure on the matrix. However, should the cyst happen to occur under the matrix, then the unit is forced upwards and the result is a bump in the nail rather than a depression.

Dr. Jerome Aronberg contributed to this article.


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