At some point, we all have had an itchy neck caused by heat, a mosquito bite, or an irritant such as lotion or soap. If it doesn’t subside by scratching it, you may be facing an itch caused by an underlying health condition. It is important to discover the cause and have proper treatment to prevent further complications such as an infection. We look what may be causing the neck itching, and how to get rid of the rash on your neck with natural treatments.
In medical terms, an itchy neck is referred to as pruritus. It can be more than just a discomfort as it often causes irritation that is not alleviated by a simple scratch. This type of severe itch can be a constant annoyance, and may lead some to have feelings of anxiety and depression. It can cause you to lose sleep and may interfere with daily activities.
A pruritus condition can start in the peripheral or central nervous system. Internal and external factors can trigger the itch in the neck through either one of these systems. It often presents as eczema or dermatitis in both males and females. Most cases of this form of itchiness can be traced to infancy.
Itchy Neck Causes
Since an itchy neck can be the result of several factors, you may be able to narrow down the trigger by the appearance of your neck. There may be a skin rash on the neck, bumps, or cracking of the skin surface. Another tale-tell sign may be if there is itchy neck no rash episodes. These are the most common causes.
1. Dry Skin
Dry skin is the number one cause of any skin itchiness, especially on the neck. The hot temperatures of summer and the extremely cold temperatures of winter are main factors of dry skin. The itchiness can accompany cracking of the skin due to moisture loss.
An allergic reaction can cause itchiness from things like harsh soap chemicals, cosmetic, dyes, bee stings, bug bites, poison ivy, poison oak, latex, certain foods, or even prescribed medication. In some instances, the type of necklace or choker you wear can cause a reaction of itchiness, or an itchy rash on the neck.
With heat, the sun’s rays, and internal factors seen with illnesses and menopause, the body can respond with excessive sweating. This leads to itchiness as the pores of the skin become clogged with salt deposits and dirt. Harmful bacteria and pathogens can settle and cause the itch.
The extreme heat of your environment can trigger your body to sweat, causing moisture to gather in the folds of the skin. This leads to itchiness, including around the neck.
Types of pruritus such as contact dermatitis can cause an itchy neck with the use of irritating soaps and laundry detergents. The skin can become inflamed with environmental exposure to chemicals, pet dander, and pollen.
6. Skin Disorders
Dermatitis and psoriasis are common skin conditions that cause itchiness of neck. A bacterial infection can cause the itchiness to spread to other parts of the body, and can include scaly skin and lesions. Scratching these lesions may lead to a condition of secondary bacterial infection.
7. Infectious Diseases
Health conditions like infectious diseases can lead to mild to severe itchiness on the neck. Chickenpox, measles, scabies, pinworms, head lice, and yeast infections are common diseases.
8. Poor Nutrition
Our skin needs essential nutrients to stay healthy. Deficiencies in vitamins A and C may lead to an itchy neck.
9. Tobacco Use
The chemicals of a cigarette can damage the skin by inhibiting the production of elastin and collagen. The smoke from a cigarette can cause the neck to become inflamed and itchy.
Symptoms of Itchy Neck
An itching neck can be an annoying discomfort accompanied by other symptoms in the region. Localized symptoms may include:
- A rash
- Warmth to the touch
- Skin cracking and flaking
If the itchiness is the result of an underlying health condition, you may experience a sore throat, runny nose, cough, headache, fever, chills, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, and joint stiffness.
Itchy Neck Treatment (Home Remedies)
Treatment for all forms of itchiness is dependent on the underlying cause. An itchy neck rash attributed to an allergic reaction such as hives, or from poison oak or ivy usually clear up on their own.
Serious medical conditions will require specialized treatment with the possibility of resolving the itchiness with such treatment. For other itchy neck episodes, you may be able to soothe and alleviate the symptom with these natural home remedies and simple lifestyle changes:
- Wear loose-fitting tops that are made from 100% cotton to prevent irritation
- Use aloe vera gel on an itchy rash to soothe the discomfort and pain of the itch
- Wash clothing, towels, and bedding with fragrance-free, mild detergent
- Apply a paste on the itchy region created with water and vitamin C
- Add baking soda to a cool bath for a 15- to 20-minute soak treatment.
- Avoid scratching the neck
- Keep the skin hydrated by drinking water throughout the day
- Use anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic essential oils such as tea tree, sandalwood, jojoba, and chamomile
- Avoid direct sunlight
- Increase your intake of vitamins C and E
- Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke
- Limit or avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages as these products can draw moisture out of your skin
An itchy neck can be an irritating condition brought on by any number of internal or external triggers. The itchiness usually resolves on its own, but in cases where it does not, further investigation may be required.
For itchiness caused by serious underlying health conditions, you may need to seek medical attention. Most itchy neck cases may be treated by making a few lifestyle changes and using natural home remedies.
Smith, M., “Home Remedy for a Neck Rash,” LIVESTRONG, August 16, 2013; http://www.livestrong.com/article/120854-home-remedy-neck-rash/, last accessed July 10, 2017.
“Itchy Neck,” MedGuidance; http://www.medguidance.com/thread/Itchy-Neck.html, last accessed July 10, 2017.