Causes of Neck Rash

Rashes can appear anywhere on the body and cause varying symptoms. They can occur as localized red, itchy bumps or cause widespread breakouts. Those who experience rashes usually also have other signs and symptoms associated with it such as tenderness, peeling and dry skin. Typically, rashes develop from skin conditions or as a reaction to an irritating substance, but they may also be a sign of something more serious. A healthcare provider can assist in diagnosing and treating individual causes of a rash.

Woman looking at her neck in the mirror (Image: JackF/iStock/Getty Images)

Heat Rash

Heat rashes are a prominent cause of a neck rash. This type of rash occurs from excessive perspiration during hot weather. Normally, perspiration evaporates on its own, but under harsh environmental conditions, perspiration can trap under the skin and cause the sweat glands to clog. Itchy or prickly skin, red bumps, inflammation and reduced sweating of the affected area can occur from clogged sweat glands. Young children and those who work in hot work environments develop a heat rash most often, but the condition can affect anyone. Common sites for heat rashes to develop include the neck and upper chest, elbows and under the breasts. Wearing lightweight clothing and avoiding ointments that can block the pores can assist in preventing a heat rash.


Various types of dermatitis exist, and each can affect the skin differently. Dermatitis refers to an inflammation of the skin that can manifest from irritants, allergens, health problems and genetics. When dermatitis affects the neck, it usually occurs from contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis occurs from direct contact with allergens or irritants that cause an irritation. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that about 80 percent of contact dermatitis results from irritants and 20 percent results from allergens. Common irritants and allergens that produce contact dermatitis are cosmetics, jewelry, soaps, detergents and perfume. The signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis include dry, red patches; rashes and itching of the affected area; and pain and tenderness.


Psoriasis is a skin disease that occurs from problems with the immune system. The condition affects the life cycle of skin cells and causes irritation. Typically, skin cells take a month between growth and shedding, but psoriasis causes an acceleration of this process. As a result of this rapid skin-cell turnover, irritation occurs in the form of dry, cracked skin; itching and soreness; rashes and scaling skin. Psoriasis can cause direct symptoms to the neck or extend from the scalp. The National Psoriasis Foundation notes that at least 50 percent of people who have psoriasis have it on their scalp. Scalp psoriasis can extend beyond the scalp to the back of the neck, ears and forehead.

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