A small nodular single mass that can form on the top of a toe is called a Mucocutaneous Cyst. These occur most frequently at the joint just behind the toenail. These are caused by a weakening of the joint capsule, which allows a swelling to occur. They are firm and rubbery to the touch. Sometimes as the skin thins due to the stretching pressure of the mass it will appear translucent. When the mass is broken or punctured, a thick clear fluid will leak out. If the mass does break open, the area should be kept clean and free of infection. Once the skin heals the mass will reappear.
Treatment of Mucocutaneous Cysts
Treatment consists of surgical excision. This can be performed in the doctor’s office under a local anesthesia or in an out patient surgery center. The procedure is relatively simple but can pose a problem for the surgeon, as closure of the skin following removal of the mass can be difficult. Often the surgeon will have to create a skin flap to rotate over the hole where the mass was removed. This requires a bit more of an incision than most patients expect. The foot is bandaged in a dry sterile dressing and the sutures remain in place for 7 to 10 days. The area must be kept dry during this period of time and a limitation of activity is advised. Complications associated with the surgery are infection, delays in healing associated with difficulty in surgically closing the wound or excessive activity which can lead to swelling and recurrence of the mass. Draining the mass as a form of treatment is not advised unless the patient is made aware of the likely recurrence. Picking the area open at home or attempting to drain it at home is discouraged. An infection in the area can cause joint damage or bone infection.