What are Digital Mucous Cysts?
A digital mucous cyst is a common, non-cancerous (benign) cyst. A cyst is a firm, fluid-filled bubble beneath the skin. Digital mucous cysts usually occur near the ends of the fingers (digits) by the nails, but may also be found on the toes.
The cysts are usually small and often painless. When they form by the base of a fingernail or toenail, they can make the nail split, and sometimes cause nail loss. Digital mucous cysts may go away on their own, or you may need a doctor to surgically remove them.
A digital mucous cyst appears alone on the finger, or less commonly, the toe. It is usually near the end of the digit by the nail.
Most are painless, but some can be tender to the touch. They may also cause the nail to become deformed. When the skin on the cyst is broken, the fluid will drain as a clear, jelly-like substance.
Digital mucous cysts usually:
- Appear alone.
- Are clear or flesh-colored.
- Have a shiny appearance.
- Are around 5 to 8 mm large (about the size of a pencil eraser).
- Are found on women who are 60 or older, but anyone can get them.
If the cyst is related to your arthritis, your joints may also be stiff and sore, and sometimes deformed.
Diagnosis and Tests
Digital mucous cysts often go away on their own. If not, surgery may be considered.
You should not try to drain the cyst on your own, because you run the risk of complications, such as joint infections or permanent damage to your fingers or toes. If the digital mucous cysts are due to fluid coming from a joint, the doctor will remove the cyst and try to seal off that spot to keep the cyst from coming back.
Digital mucous cysts can’t be prevented.