How to Identify and Treat Eczema on the Neck

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Eczema is an umbrella term that describes a group of skin conditions that cause itchy rashes. Though eczema can occur anywhere on the body, it often develops on the neck because of a type of yeast known as Malassezia spp. Eczema on the neck is often referred to as head and neck dermatitis.

This article discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for neck eczema. 


The cause of eczema isn’t well known. That said, it can sometimes result from:  

  • Malassezia spp, an overgrowth of yeast that lives naturally on the skin,
  • Irritants and allergens

Other aspects play a role in the development of eczema, including:

  • Genetics
  • Environment
  • Immune system dysfunction

How Common Is Eczema?

According to the National Eczema Association, eczema affects roughly 31.6 million people in the United States. Though the numbers associated with head and neck dermatitis aren't clear, children seem more likely to develop it.


The symptoms of neck eczema include:

  • Excessively itchy skin
  • A reddish rash
  • Dry skin that can flake and peel


Treating head and neck dermatitis depends on the cause. If the Malassezia spp fungus causes it, antifungal medication can clear up the rash.

If fungus isn’t to blame and it develops because of an unknown cause, different treatment options may be explored, such as:

  • Topical corticosteroids, such as Desonate
  • Topical medications designed to hinder the overreaction of the immune system
  • Phototherapy, which uses UV light to suppress the action of immune system skin cells that are causing inflammation

Severe Neck Eczema and Oral Medications

In severe cases, oral, intravenous, or injectable medications may treat the body as a whole. These can include corticosteroids and medicines that suppress the immune system.


In most cases, you cannot prevent eczema on the neck from occurring. That said, you can prevent it from flaring up if you do have the condition. Preventing flare-ups revolves around keeping the skin moisturized and avoiding any triggers you may have, such as stress or contact with an allergen or irritant.

Because Malassezia is a natural yeast that grows on the skin, it cannot be prevented either. However, you can prevent overgrowth by avoiding the overuse of antibiotics because antibiotics can sometimes cause the yeast to grow out of control.

Avoiding Triggers

To avoid triggers for your neck eczema, you must first learn what they are. Say you notice that you have flare-ups during times of great stress. You can then use stress management techniques to help keep your neck eczema at bay during more difficult times.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Suspecting you have eczema on your neck should warrant an appointment with a dermatologist, a medical provider specializing in skin disorders.

Some of the signs that tell you that you should contact your medical provider as soon as possible include:

  • Swelling or pain in the area
  • Warm skin
  • Any areas that have pus or drainage, which can indicate infection
  • Fever
  • A general feeling of unwellness


Neck eczema, also referred to as head and neck dermatitis, is an inflammatory skin condition caused by several things, including an overactive immune system, an overgrowth of Malassezia yeast, or a genetic predisposition. The symptoms, such as intense itchiness and dry skin, are common across all types of eczema, including neck eczema. Typically, the condition is treated based on whether or not it is caused by fungal overgrowth. Antifungals may help in that case, and if it’s not the case, other treatments such as corticosteroids or light therapy may help instead. 

Though you cannot prevent eczema, you can do your best to prevent flare-ups by getting to know your triggers, avoiding them, and practicing stress management techniques. A dermatologist should examine any eczema on the neck so that they can help you develop a treatment plan that will work for you.

A Word From Verywell

Eczema, especially on the neck, can severely impact your quality of life. Aside from the itchiness and other symptoms associated with the condition, it can cause a cosmetic issue because of its unsightly rash. Eczema is highly treatable. Because of that, even if you have neck eczema, you can find a treatment that works for you so that you don’t have to deal with the symptoms daily.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is eczema common on the neck?

    Eczema can commonly occur on the neck, but it is most likely to develop in children. Adults, however, can still have neck eczema. Roughly 31.6 million Americans cope with eczema daily.

  • What triggers eczema flare-ups?

    Many things can trigger an eczema flare-up, such as:

    • Antibiotic use
    • High levels of stress
    • Coming into contact with an irritant or allergen
    • Cold and dry weather
  • What should you not put on eczema?

    There are many over-the-counter options for people with eczema. However, not everything that claims to be good for the skin is good for eczema. People with neck eczema should avoid:

    • Products with glycolic acid, retinol, or salicylic acid
    • Fragrance or other harsh and heavily scented soaps and body washes
    • Essential oils
    • Products containing urea or lanolin
    • Foaming agents
    • Products containing ethanol
7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Thomsen SF. Atopic dermatitis: Natural history, diagnosis, and treatment. ISRN Allergy. 2014 Apr 2;2014:354250. doi:10.1155/2014/354250

  3. National Eczema Association. Eczema causes and triggers.

  4. National Eczema Association. Eczema facts.

  5. Maarouf M, Saberian C, Lio PA, Shi VY. Head-and-neck dermatitis: Diagnostic difficulties and management pearls. Pediatr Dermatol. 2018 Nov;35(6):748-753. doi:10.1111/pde.13642

  6. Rubenstein RM, Malerich SA. Malassezia (pityrosporum) folliculitis. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 Mar;7(3):37-41.

  7. National Eczema Association. 8 skincare ingredients to avoid if you have eczema, according to dermatologists.

By Angelica Bottaro
Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She has been educated in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills needed to deliver sound and engaging content in the health space.