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The neck is one of the most frequently exposed areas of skin on the human body. If you have a itchy rash, or dermatitis on your neck, the condition is usually painless, but often unsightly and uncomfortable. No matter the cause of your red bumps, one bit of advice remains consistent -- don’t scratch. Scratching can cause abrasions and introduce bacteria that make the skin susceptible to infection.
Check for Irritants
Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when some object or substance that is irritating comes in contact with the skin around the neck 13. This could be an itchy wool collar, a piece of jewelry that has rough edges or any chemical that damages skin cells, such as detergents or hair dye. The irritant could be something relatively mild to which the skin is exposed for a prolonged period of time, or a stronger irritant that causes dermatitis upon contact 13. In irritant contact dermatitis, the broken surface of the abraded skin loses moisture and dries out, leading to the itchiness and rash 13. Some skin types are more vulnerable than others, according to DermNet NZ.
Do You Have an Allergy?
Skin Reaction to Lanolin
Another type of dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, results when the skin comes in contact with an object that the body has erroneously identified as a threat 13. In response, the cells of the affected area release histamines, chemicals that increase blood vessel permeability, which permits fluids that contain white blood cells to flow out of the blood vessels and into the affected tissue. The area experiences swelling and irritation, sometimes accompanied by blisters. Poison ivy is a form of allergic contact dermatitis that most people are familiar with 13. EczemaNet lists other substances that commonly cause:
- allergic contact dermatitis
- such as fragrances
- which are frequently applied to the neck; rubber
- which can be found in the elastic found in clothing that touches the neck;
- metals such as nickel
- which is commonly used in necklaces 13
Some people may find that a fragrance that normally poses no problem will result in a red, itchy rash when the area to which the fragrance is applied is exposed to the sun. This phenomena is known as allergic photocontact dermatitis. Both factors--exposure to the allergen, followed by exposure to the UV light of the sun--must be in place for allergic photocontact dermatitis to occur. EczemaNet reports that sunscreen itself is often the culprit in occurrences of allergic photocontact dermatitis.
- Some people may find that a fragrance that normally poses no problem will result in a red, itchy rash when the area to which the fragrance is applied is exposed to the sun.
- EczemaNet reports that sunscreen itself is often the culprit in occurrences of allergic photocontact dermatitis.
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- Eczema Net: Contact Dermatitis
- Medline Plus: Rashes
- DermNet NZ: Irritant Contact Dermatitis
- Kids Health: Rashes: The Itchy Truth
- Usatine RP, Riojas M. Diagnosis and management of contact dermatitis. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(3):249-55.
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. CONTACT DERMATITIS: SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Cleveland Clinic. Contact Dermatitis
- Veverka KK, Hall MR, Yiannias JA, et al. Trends in Patch Testing With the Mayo Clinic Standard Series, 2011-2015. Dermatitis. 2018;29(6):310-315. doi:10.1097/DER.0000000000000411
- Pacheco KA. Occupational dermatitis: How to identify the exposures, make the diagnosis, and treat the disease. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2018;120(6):583-591. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2018.04.013
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. How dermatologist treat contact dermatitis
- Contact Dermatitis. Medline Plus.
- Katta R, Schlichte M. Diet and dermatitis: Food triggers. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. March 2014;30–36.
- Nguyen JC, Chesnut G, et al. Allergic contact dermatitis caused by lanolin (wool) alcohol contained in an emollient in three postsurgical patients. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010;62:1064–5.
- Saary J, Qureshi R. A systematic review of contact dermatitis treatment and prevention. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005;53:845–55.
- Wentworth AB, Yiannias JA, et at. Trends in patch testing, J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;70:269–75.
For 15 years, Charis Grey's award-winning work has appeared in film, television, newspapers, magazines and on the Internet. She has worked as a story editor on the CBS drama "Flashpoint" and her work appears bimonthly in "The Driver Magazine." She has a Bachelor of Science in biology and a doctorate in chiropractic medicine from Palmer College.