A person who notices an itchy rash on their neck may have eczema. Eczema refers to a group of skin conditions that can often appear on the face and neck.
Two examples of eczema that can affect the neck are atopic dermatitis (AD) and contact dermatitis (CD).
This article discusses what eczema is, how it presents on the neck, and the symptoms of eczema on the neck. It also takes a look at how to treat and prevent eczema symptoms.
Eczema refers to a group of conditions that cause itchy and irritated rashes.
Eczema can affect people of all ages, and symptoms can range from very mild to severe. It can affect many areas of the skin, including the skin on the neck.
AD and CD are two common types of eczema.
AD is a skin condition that can develop at any age. It causes itchy rashes and can appear on any area of the skin. However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, it is more likely to appear on the neck in children ages 2 years and older.
CD occurs when the skin comes into contact with an irritant or allergen. CD usually develops on the face and neck, as well as the underarms, scalp, and the tops of the feet.
The group of conditions is very common. Over 31 million people in the United States have some type of eczema.
Eczema symptoms may vary from person to person in severity and presentation.
Those who develop CD on the neck may experience:
- itchy skin
- tender skin
- a rash
- a burning or stinging sensation
- fluid-filled blisters that may ooze or leave crusts and scales
- excessively dry skin
If AD appears on the neck, a person may experience an itchy patch of skin. Scratching it can lead to a rash, which will appear red on light skin and dark brown, purple, or gray on dark skin. The skin can become sore and ooze, and weep fluid and blood if a person scratches it.
Over time, scratching can cause the skin to thicken.
Most people find eczema will be mild to moderately itchy. However, some people may find the itching to be intense. They may notice their symptoms vary in intensity, lessening and worsening at different times.
Eczema and psoriasis are both skin conditions that can cause dry, thick, and patchy areas of skin.
Psoriasis has well-defined, thick, scaly patches of skin and tends to occur on areas such as the elbows and knees. It can also occur on the face, buttocks, and scalp.
On white skin, psoriasis appears red or pink. On black skin, it can appear violet, gray, or dark brown. Psoriasis is generally mildly itchy.
Eczema rashes may not be as well defined and often have round blotches. They can range in color from red to brownish-gray.
A dermatologist will be able to properly diagnose eczema or psoriasis.
A person can develop CD due to an irritant or allergen. This can include skin-care products and fragrances.
CD can appear wherever a person has applied the allergen. For example, applying perfume on the neck can lead to a CD rash appearing in the same area.
Examples of irritants that can lead to CD on the neck include:
- skin creams and lotions
- jewelry containing metals such as nickel
Researchers do not know exactly what causes AD, but
Some people with AD have a mutation of the gene that makes a protein responsible for maintaining a protective outer layer on the skin.
When a person’s body does not produce enough of this protein, the skin’s barrier will allow moisture to escape more easily, making the skin more vulnerable to irritants, viruses, and bacteria.
Additionally, a person may be more likely to develop AD when they have a family history of eczema, other skin conditions, or allergies.
A person with eczema may also have an overactive immune system. When someone with eczema encounters a common trigger inside or outside their body, it can result in inflammation. This inflammation causes itching and rashes.
A doctor can examine a person’s skin during a flare to diagnose eczema on the neck.
During diagnosis, a doctor may ask a person or caregiver about related symptoms and discuss the person’s medical history.
If a doctor suspects allergies may be the cause, they may recommend allergy testing.
If the cause is CD, a person should avoid the irritant. The rash should disappear without treatment over time.
In the meantime, a person can do the following to help relieve any itching:
- Apply a cool compress.
- Apply calamine lotion or take colloidal oatmeal baths.
- Apply and take any medication a dermatologist prescribes.
People should also avoid applying cosmetics, creams, or makeup.
While there is no cure for AD, treatments are available to help manage and reduce the symptoms.
Treatments vary from person to person based on age and the severity of the symptoms. Treatment options include:
- prescription and over-the-counter creams and ointments, such as corticosteroids
- oral medications, including biologics and immunosuppressants
A person should talk to a doctor to determine the best course of treatment.
To help ease the symptoms of eczema on the neck at home, a person can try the following:
- Moisturize after bathing.
- Choose skin-care products that are fragrance-free.
- Use lukewarm water for bathing.
- Use detergents that are fragrance-free.
- Wash new clothes before wearing them.
Prevention is a large part of treating eczema flares.
The most important step a person can take to prevent a flare is moisturizing their skin daily.
When eczema appears on the neck, a person should look for substances that come into contact with the skin in that area to identify the triggers.
In addition to avoiding outside triggers, managing stress and working with a doctor to find a gentle, moisturizing skin-care routine can also help prevent flares.
People with eczema are at increased risk for bacterial or viral skin infections.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases notes that
A person can avoid scratching and keep the skin well moisturized to lower their risk of developing a skin infection. These steps can prevent the skin from cracking and bleeding.
Additionally, a person with AD has an increased risk of developing a severe infection as a result of the smallpox vaccine and should not receive it.
A person with eczema should work with a dermatologist to develop a care plan to manage their symptoms. They should contact a doctor if they notice any new or worsening symptoms or changes in their skin.
Anyone with eczema should contact their doctor immediately if they notice any signs of skin infection, including:
- an area of swollen, painful skin
- skin that is warm to the touch
- areas of the skin that have drainage or pus
A fever and general feeling of discomfort may accompany the above symptoms.
Eczema is a common group of skin conditions characterized by areas of dry, itchy skin with a rash-like appearance.
CD and AD are two types of eczema that can affect the neck.
There is no cure for eczema, but medical treatment, a good skin-care routine, and lifestyle changes can help a person avoid flares.