Also known as amucous cyst, a digital myxoid cyst is an entirely benign, non-cancerous swelling that usually occurs at the base of the nail, on the fingers or toes. Digital myxoid cysts are not contagious and they are not a sign of infection. They do not develop into skin cancer. The term cyst is from the Greek kystis meaning a bag or pouch; myxoid and mucoid refer to the jelly-like contents. Digital derives from the Latin digitus, meaning finger or toe.
What Causes it?
The exact cause is not known. The cyst is frequently connected to the lining of the finger or toenail joint, and is usually located between the joint and the nail. Arthritis of the joint, at the end of the finger or toe, probably predisposes a person to developing these cysts.
What does a Digital Myxoid Cyst look like?
Digital myxoid cysts are skin-coloured, reddish, or slightly translucent. If a cyst overlies the area where the nail is formed, it may cause a groove to occur, along the length of the nail. Sometimes, slightly sticky, clear, straw-coloured or blood-stained contents may leak out of the cyst. Most people usually develop only one cyst. However, some people may develop more than one cyst on different fingers.
The cyst is usually not painful. However, it may become tender, especially when knocked. Occasionally, there may also be symptoms of arthritis with pain, stiffness and deformity of the joint. Cysts may then get in the way, and their appearance may cause concern. Though digital myxoid cysts are tender when knocked, they only rarely become infected. If a cyst suddenly becomes larger, painful, red and hot, you should see your doctor, as these symptoms may indicate an infection and an antibiotic may be needed.
How is it Diagnosed?
As indicated, it is usually easily recognised as a small lump overlying the end joint of a finger or toe. There may, or may not be, a groove present in the adjacent fingernail. If the skin over the top of the cyst is broken, a discharge of clear, slightly sticky material from the cyst is characteristic. If the cyst arises under the nail, the diagnosis is more difficult. The overlying nail is often deformed. A scan or a biopsy (sample taken from the cyst with a local anaesthetic) may then be needed.
How can a Digital Myxoid Cyst be treated?
If a digital myxoid cyst does not cause any symptoms, no treatment is required. Small cysts can actually disappear spontaneously, without treatment.
If treatment is considered necessary, however, there are a number of options.
Without local anaesthetic
- – There can be repeated drainage of the cyst fluid using a sterile needle or blade.
With local anaesthetic
- – The cyst can be excised.
- – Dye can be injected into the joint, to find the cyst, and point of leakage from the joint.Then that leak would be closed.
- – The cyst can be cauterised.
Other Methods of Treatment
Treatments which may be successful include:
- – Repeatedly pressing firmly on the cyst
- – Squeezing out its contents through a hole made with a sterile needle
- – Cryotherapy (freezing)
- – Steroid injection
- – Sclerosant injection
- – Surgical removal
What is the Likely Outcome?
Cysts may recur even after whatever treatment is used. They may also disappear spontaneously as indicated earlier.
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