What causes neck itch?

Neck itch may have many possible causes, including allergens (agents that cause allergies), infections, autoimmune disorders, or other causes such as stress.

Allergic causes of neck itch

Neck itch may be caused by contact dermatitis. Common triggers include:

  • Cosmetics, dyes or detergents
  • Industrial chemicals, such as those found in elastic, latex and rubber
  • Metallic substances such as those used in jewelry
  • Poison ivy or oak

Other allergic causes of neck itch include:

  • Atopy
  • Eczema (skin disorder causing scaly or blistering rashes that may be caused by allergy)
  • Food allergies (allergic reactions to certain foods)
  • Insect bite allergy such as a bee sting

Infectious causes of neck itch

Neck itch can also be caused by infections including:

  • Candidiasis (yeast infection)
  • Chickenpox
  • Eczema (skin disorder causing scaly or blistering rashes that may be caused by infection)
  • Head lice
  • Pinworm
  • Scabies
  • Tinea versicolor (dermatophyte infection)

Other causes of neck itch

Neck itch can be caused by other conditions such as:

  • Extreme cold or heat
  • Medications
  • Neurodermatitis (extreme itching)
  • Pregnancy
  • Psoriasis
  • Stress

Parasites, insects and arachnids that cause a neck rash

  • A neck rash can be due to insects, parasites or arachnids that bite the skin or burrow in the skin including:
  • Bedbugs 
  • Fleas
  • Head lice or pubic lice
  • Mites
  • Mosquito bites (mosquitoes also carry parasitic diseases)
  • Ticks

Serious or life-threatening causes of neck itch

In some cases, rash may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction)
  • Chronic renal failure (also called chronic kidney disease)
  • Obstructive biliary disease (obstruction of the bile ducts)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of neck itch

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your itch including:

  • When did the itching begin?
  • Are you taking any medications?
  • Do you have any known allergies?
  • Do you feel otherwise healthy?
  • Have you tried any new products recently, such as soaps, perfumes or sprays?
  • Do you wear neck jewelry or earrings?
  • Have you spent a lot of time outdoors lately?
  • Does scratching make it better or worse?

What are the potential complications of neck itch?

An itch is not usually serious, but in rare cases, it can be a symptom of a serious condition that may have severe complications. You should contact your health care professional to rule out any serious conditions. Once the underlying cause of your itch is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications, including secondary infections, which may develop from scratching and related skin trauma.


  1. Itching. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/itching.html.=
  2. Pruritus. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/search/?k=Pruritus.
  3. Ferri FF (Ed.) Ferri’s Fast Facts in Dermatology. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier, 2011.

What is neck itch?

A neck itch is a tickling, irritating sensation accompanied by the persistent need to scratch your neck. The medical term for itching is pruritus. Redness, swelling, soreness, flaking and scarring may occur in the area of itching. Although scratching may temporarily relieve your symptoms, persistent scratching can worsen itchy rash symptoms and leave the affected skin susceptible to contaminati... Read more about neck itchintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with neck itch?

Neck itch may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Certain conditions that cause neck itch may also involve other body systems.

Related localized symptoms that may occur along with neck itch

Neck itch may be accompanied by other localized symptoms including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails

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