Digital Myxoid Cysts (Mucous Cysts)

Medically reviewed by The Dermatologists and written by Dr. Alexander Börve


  • Requires medical diagnosis
  • Symptoms: Firm, round, fluid-filled bumps with smooth shiny surfaces
  • Color: Typically flesh-colored, reddish or slightly translucent
  • Location: At the base of or under the nail
  • Treatment: Repeated drainage, curettage, excision, cauterizing, steroid injections, freezing (cryosurgery), surgical removal

Digital myxoid cysts, or mucous cysts, are solitary, fluid-filled growths on fingers or toes. They are caused by dying tissue, often related to osteoarthritis.

These cysts are not caused by the use of digital devices; “digital” here derives from the Latin digitus, meaning finger or toe. While the exact cause is unknown, they occur most frequently in people over 60 years old.

The cyst forms as the connective tissue on the top of the last segment of the finger or the joint at the end of the finger degenerates.

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They are usually at the base of the nail, but can also occur under the nail. This causes nail discoloration and grooves. While some people only get one cyst on the finger, some may develop more than one on different fingers.

The cysts are round bumps that can feel firm or fluid-filled to touch. They have smooth shiny surfaces and are usually small, even though sizes can vary. They are often flesh-colored, reddish or slightly translucent. Occasionally, slightly sticky, clear, straw-colored or blood-stained contents may leak out of the cyst.

Other symptoms include arthritis with pain, stiffness and deformity of the joint adjacent to the cyst. Infected digital myxoid cysts become larger, painful, red and hot.

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What can I do?

Soaking, local heat, massage, topical steroids, heparin cream and silver nitrate have all reported success in treating digital myxoid cysts.

You may also try repeatedly pressing firmly on the cyst, but most cysts go away themselves without treatment. It is also important to keep in mind that these growths are benign and often come back after healing.



Should I seek medical care?

No treatment is necessary in most cases. However, if your cyst is infected, you should ask for a prescription antibiotic from a healthcare provider.



Some myxoid cysts will go away on their own, but they often reappear. Repeated drainage, curettage, excision and cauterizing the cysts are common treatment methods. Other treatments include steroid injections, freezing (cryosurgery), and surgical removal.

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British Association of Dermatologists. Digital Myxoid Cyst. Available at:

Image Courtesy of Jmarchn via Wikicommons. Edited and watermarked by First Derm. Available at:

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