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What Is A Muco-Cutaneious Cyst?

Older lady visiting the podiatrist.

Discovering a small, squishy lump on your toe near the nail may be shocking and leaving you with a lot of questions. While it is impossible to know exactly what is causing the formation of a small lump in your situation without a proper medical exam, there is a good chance that it is a muco-cutaneious cyst. 

What is a Muco-Cutaneious Cyst?


A muco-cutaneious cyst is a small, single nodular mass that has formed on the top of the toe. The nodular mass, which usually has a firm, yet rubbery texture, is usually located just above the joint of the toe and right below the nail. 


Anyone at any age can get a muco-cutaneious cyst. However, they mostly occur in women over the age of 60 and those who have been diagnosed with arthritis.  


What Causes a Muco-Cutaneious Cyst to Form?


A muco-cutaneious cysts most commonly forms as a result of the weakening of the toe joint. As the joint starts to weaken, the fluid which usually surrounds the joint starts to leak out. The fluid leaks out and the cyst forms. 


This type of muco-cutaneious cyst can happen for the following reasons:

  • Injury 
  • Arthritis or other form of degenerative joint disease
  • Randomly occur 

The second, and less common, cause of muco-cutaneious cysts is the accumulation of a substance known as mucin. Mucin is a soft, gelatinous substance. If too much of the substance is present, it can start to accumulate and the cyst forms. 


Symptoms of Muco-Cutaneious Cysts


Common symptoms of muco-cutaneious cysts include:

  • Firm lump that forms below the toenail but above the joint 
  • Lump typically measures between 5 and 8 millimeters which is approximately the size of an eraser on the top of a pencil 
  • Lump has a shiny, translucent appearance 
  • Larger cysts may cause pain, discomfort or deformities 

Treatment for Muco-Cutaneious Cysts 


Most muco-cutaneious cysts do not require treatment as they will usually go away on their own. However, treatment may be needed if the cyst is causing pain or making it difficult to walk. 


Treatment options for muco-cutaneious cysts include:

  • Cryotherapy - draining the cyst and then using liquid nitrogen to freeze it which removes the cyst 
  • Infrared coagulation - burns the cyst away 
  • Pressing repeatedly and firmly on the cyst
  • Surgery - the cyst is carefully removed and the surgeon will cover the area with a skin flap to help with healing 

Should You Pop a Muco-Cutaneious Cyst?


It might be tempting to want to pop the muco-cutaneious cyst, but you shouldn't. Popping the cyst increases your risk of infection. Sometimes the cyst may pop on its own. If this happens, it is important that you take precautions, such as properly cleaning the area, keeping it dry and bandaging it, to prevent infection. 


To prevent  muco-cutaneious cyst from popping, it is recommended that you pad the area with a soft, sterile bandage or other type of material, such as cotton. 


Schedule an Appointment to Explore Treatment Options for Muco-Cutaneious Cysts 


If you suspect you have a muco-cutaneious cyst, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at Sweeney Foot & Ankle. Our doctors will assess your situation and determine which treatment is right for you. We can also treat infections that may have formed as a result of a popped muco-cutaneious cyst. 


Contact us to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you!