Itching is uncontrolled feeling that compels an individual to scratch. Pruritus is the medical term that describes itching. Itching can occur in any part of the body and in this article, you will know in depth about itchy neck, what causes it and what remedies are available. Persistent itching around the neck is an unpleasant condition that makes one uncomfortable. Ranging from atopic dermatitis to hormonal fluctuation there are many causes that causes itchy neck. Itching is said to be generalized if it occurs all over the body and is said to be localized when itching is confined to particular area.
Mild form of itching is quite common for most of the people but persistent chronic (long-lasting) itching can disrupt the quality of life. Eczema starts as early as first year of life in babies as per the data reported by National Institute of Arthritis and Skin Diseases. First signs of dermatitis can develop before the age of 5 years. Itching can be managed and treated by knowing the underlying cause. Medications like antihistamines and several kinds of home remedies are effective in controlling itchy neck.
Causes Of Itchy Neck :
Number of conditions and diseases can cause itchiness in neck. It can range from mild factor like skin rash to major condition like anemia or hormonal imbalance. Some of the important conditions that cause itchy neck are given here:-
- Skin Conditions :
Skin diseases like eczema, atopic dermatitis, dry skin, hives, welts (urticaria triggered by allergens), contact dermatitis, itchy rash (of unknown cause), psoriasis (causing flaky patches on the skin), dandruff, folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles), and prurigo can cause moderate to severe itching on the skin and neck.
- Allergens :
Certain environmental factor and irritants can trigger itchy feeling on the neck. Fragrances, cosmetic ingredients, certain metals like nickel, new jewelry, clothing that contains resins and dyes, contact with certain plants like sunflowers and daffodils, prickly heat rash, allergy caused by foods or medications, and sunburn (over exposure to harsh sunlight) are some of the common causes that triggers itchy neck.
- Insect Bites :
Head lice, scabies mite, insect bites like mosquitoes, bees and wasps, bedbugs and threadworms are some of the common insects that trigger itchy neck.
- Infections :
Some types of serious infections like chickenpox, athlete’s foot, and ringworm infection can produce itchy neck and itchiness in other part of the body.
- Other Factors :
Certain underlying conditions can cause itching of neck and other skin areas. Thyroid fluctuation, enlarged blood vessels, anemia (iron deficiency), diabetes, increased production of red blood cells and certain liver disorders can cause severe itching. Even psychological factors like anxiety and depression can cause itchy neck.
- Pregnancy :
During pregnancy itchy neck is quite common due to increased hormone production and formation of skin rash.
- Menopause :
Pre-menopause and menopause can cause change in hormone production that can induce itchy feeling. Estrogen hormone secretion can cause itching all over the body.
Your doctor will collect complete medical history after completing the physical exam. He may look for red sores, blisters or ulcerous growth on the neck and other body parts. If he suspects any underlying medical condition, he may request for blood test and other important tests.
Based on the causative factor treatment method will differ for itchy neck. For skin conditions like dryness of skin, itchy rash etc he may prescribe suitable medications and topical creams. For insect bites and other infections, antibiotics and antiviral/antifungal drugs are prescribed. Over the counter antihistamines can be effective to control moderate itching on the neck and other skin areas.
Tips for Prevention :
- Trim your nails regularly. It is possible that you may inadvertently scratch your neck and other skin areas while sleeping.
- Apply wet compress on the itchy skin so that it cools down and reduces itching.
- While working on the garden wear protective gloves on your hand and feet.
- Avoid more intakes of coffee, alcohol and spicy foods since it can make things worse.
- During summer season, bathing twice with cool water can prevent itching and skin rash.
- Do not use high fragrance products for bathing and other cosmetic purpose since it can cause allergy.
- Don’t wear tight fitting clothing and use only cotton under-garments.
- Apply moisturizing cream twice a day and use it liberally if you have dry skin.
Creams and Lotions :
Choose creams that contain menthol and check if particular lotion has crotamiton in it to control itching. For severe itching, you can use steroid cream for few days and apply it on inflamed areas. Hydrocortisone cream is effective for managing itchy neck.
A Word Of Caution :
Often antihistamine and itch creams would respond for your problem and give relief from itching. But if itching pertains even after using creams you need to consult your doctor/dermatologist. Itching due to underlying medical condition should be treated early since it can cause complications.