A wide range of skin conditions can cause itchy skin around the neck. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a condition called atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease that encompasses a variety of skin disorders ranging from allergies to inherited tendencies. While most itchy rashes around the neck are not harmful, they can be particularly uncomfortable, especially when constantly rubbed by shirt collars and jewelry.
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Men and women alike experience atopic dermatitis, or eczema, around the neck, but according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the condition usually first appears in babies during the first year of life. Close to 85 percent of children will develop their first dermatitis symptoms by the age of 5. While adults over the age of 30 rarely develop dermatitis symptoms, very hot or cold weather can influence an outbreak.
When allergens are present in clothing or bedding, they can affect the neck and cause an itchy rash. According to Medline Plus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, common allergies that cause neck rashes include soaps and detergents that have been used in the laundry. Mild allergic reactions typically disappear within days and are prevented by changing laundry detergent brands or using a different soap. Emergency care should be taken when the neck rash is accompanied by difficulty breathing.
Heat rash is a common condition that results in a red itchy rash in the neck area. Heat rash, also called prickly heat or miliaria, develops when sweat glands become clogged and heat becomes trapped underneath the skin. The condition, according to MayoClinic.com, affects babies and adults alike. Symptoms may be mild and alleviated quickly by loosening a shirt collar or they can be severe and cause intense prickling and itching in the folds of the neck. You can prevent heat rash by staying in cool climates or air-conditioned rooms and wearing loose clothing.
Dry skin is especially prevalent among the elderly and can lead to an itchy neck and other itchy body parts. The skin around the neck becomes thin and papery and does not hold water as you age, making it a prime target for excessive dryness and itching, according to the National Institute on Aging. Other factors that contribute to dry, itchy skin include smoking, sun exposure, stress, dry air and not drinking enough fluids.
Scratching dry itchy skin around the neck can lead to infections, according to the National Institute on Aging. Seniors may develop bleeding when they scratch because the skin is so thin. Moisture and lotions can help, but continuous itching can have more serious ramifications as well, such as difficulty sleeping. If dry itchy skin does not respond to home remedies or a change in detergent, you should see a doctor. Persistent rashes can indicate underlying conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes.