Why Do I Have a Rash on My Neck?

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A neck rash is an inflammatory reaction that can occur on the back, front, and sides of the neck. How the rash looks and feels depends on what’s causing it. Depending on your skin tone, the color of the rash may appear red, brown, or purple and be accompanied by itching, warmth, pain, and spots or blisters.  Many things can cause a neck rash to develop, such as allergies or skin conditions.

This article discusses the possible causes of a neck rash and what you can do if you develop one.

Woman scratching neck

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A neck rash can develop for many reasons. Some of the most notable causes of a neck rash include:


Types of infections that cause neck rashes include:

  • Viral: Viral infections can sometimes lead to neck rashes. For example, a neck rash caused by COVID-19 may involve swelling, redness, and being warm to the touch. Other viral infections that may cause a rash on the neck include shingles, chickenpox, and measles.
  • Bacterial: In some cases, a bacterial infection such as syphilis can cause a rash to develop and spread to the neck. Other bacterial infections such as impetigo, scarlet fever, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are also associated with neck rashes.
  • Fungal: Certain fungal infections have been shown to cause rashes in various areas of the body. If the fungus is on the neck, a rash can occur. Specific fungal infections that cause neck rashes include tinea versicolor or ringworm.
  • Parasitic: Parasitic infections will cause a rash in various body areas, depending on where the parasite has infiltrated. One common parasitic infection that leads to a neck rash is scabies.

Infections and a Neck Rash

Contracting any of the above infections does not guarantee that you’ll develop a neck rash. However, they are all associated with a rash that can occur on various parts of the body, including the neck.


Allergic reactions present differently depending on the type. If someone comes into contact with something they’re allergic to, such as cosmetics or nickel jewelry, they could develop a neck rash caused by an allergic reaction.

The symptoms that develop include redness, itching, and hives.

Hives on the Neck

Hives can develop because of an allergic reaction. However, they can also occur on the neck in response to high emotional or psychological stress levels.

Serious Conditions

A neck rash could indicate a severe health condition. The most notable health disorder that can lead to rashes of the neck is diabetes.

Other conditions that can lead to neck rashes include:

  • Meningitis (swelling of membranes that protect the brain and spinal cord)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Petechiae, which is a rash that appears as tiny red pinpricks on the skin
  • Purpura, which is a type of rash that develops as purple-colored spots on the skin 

Petechiae and purpura are not typically severe conditions but can occur with a serious health issue such as lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system).

Is a Neck Rash the First Sign of a Serious Health Disorder?

If a neck rash is indicative of disease, many other symptoms are typically present. There is little clinical evidence to support a neck rash on its own as an indicator of severe or life-threatening disease.

Skin Conditions

Skin conditions are often one of the most common reasons for developing a neck rash. Many skin disorders can lead to a rash on the neck, including:


The symptoms of a neck rash will depend on what type of rash it is. The most notable symptoms of a neck rash include:

  • Redness
  • Irritation or inflammation
  • Skin that is warm to the touch
  • Bumps, spots, or hives
  • Intense itching
  • Dry or cracked skin
  • Pain

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Not all neck rashes require immediate medical attention. Still, you should see your healthcare provider if the rash doesn’t go away within one week, spreads from the neck to other areas of the body, or interferes with your ability to complete daily tasks. Other symptoms that should also alert you to see a healthcare provider right away include:

  • Severe pain
  • Blisters
  • Yellow or green fluid coming from the rash
  • Red streaks in the rash
  • Fever
  • The rash spreads quickly
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling in the neck or face


Diagnosing a rash is possible through a rash evaluation. During the assessment, your healthcare provider will examine the rash and note any other symptoms you’re experiencing, either with the rash itself or those that may seem unrelated.

A rash evaluation may include:

  • An allergy patch test to determine if an allergen or irritant set off the rash
  • A blood test to check for any signs of infection or illness
  • A skin biopsy to check for skin disorders or infection

How to Prepare for a Rash Evaluation

Medications such as antihistamines or antidepressants may need to be avoided up until the test is complete. Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop taking your medications and which ones should be avoided until you have completed the rash evaluation.


Treating a neck rash depends highly on what is causing it. Allergy-driven rashes tend to clear up after you have removed the allergen. You can also treat them with antihistamines or topical creams to relieve symptoms.

If you have a skin disorder, you may need a specific treatment to help manage the rash. Many types, such as psoriasis and rosacea, are incurable. Typically, treatments for skin disorders include:

  • Topical corticosteroids
  • UV light therapy (also called phototherapy)
  • Topical drugs designed to suppress the action of the immune system
  • Topical vitamin D3 analogs
  • Topical benzoyl peroxide
  • Topical antibiotics

In some severe cases, oral corticosteroids or immune-suppressing medications may be necessary. If an underlying health condition is causing the rash, that specific disorder will be treated. When that happens, the rash will likely clear up.

Risks and Complications of an Untreated Neck Rash

Though many rashes go away on their own, leaving a neck rash untreated can be dangerous, especially if an underlying health disorder such as diabetes is causing it. Diabetes and other severe health disorders can cause significant permanent damage to your health if you leave them untreated.


Though there is not much you can do to prevent underlying health issues or skin disorders, you can prevent neck rashes driven by allergies or infection. You can do this by:

  • Avoiding others with contagious rash-causing illnesses
  • Avoid allergens or irritants that you know cause a rash
  • Use mild, scent-free soaps to cleanse your neck
  • Limit your stress as much as possible


Neck rashes can be caused by various things ranging from infections to underlying health disorders. Skin disorders are often the most common culprit behind a neck rash. Pay attention to your symptoms if you notice a rash developing on your neck. Rashes can appear similar and be red and itchy and develop into bumps or spots. When you have a rash, it’s important to monitor symptoms and how long it lasts.

Not all rashes can be prevented, but those caused by allergies and infections can. To avoid a neck rash, you can stay away from allergens, protect yourself against infections, and maintain a good skin care routine.

A Word From Verywell

Having a new rash on your neck can be irritating for several reasons. The first is because of how it feels, and the second may be because of how it looks. No matter what, if you develop a rash, some type of reaction is occurring in your body. If the rash doesn’t clear in a matter of days, you should see your healthcare provider. They will get to the bottom of your neck rash so you can find out what’s going on and what you can do about it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can stress or anxiety cause a rash on the neck?

    Psychological stress can have a significant impact on both your emotional and physical health. When it comes to neck rashes, stress can cause hives to develop that cover the neck. These hives typically only pop up during times of high stress and can be remedied with stress management.

  • What happens when a neck rash is left untreated?

    Depending on the cause, an untreated neck rash can be OK. However, because some health disorders cause rashes to develop on the neck, leaving it untreated can do your overall health a big disservice. If you have a neck rash, never leave it untreated unless you know the cause isn’t harmful.

  • When should I be concerned about a neck rash?

    Though not all neck rashes are harmful, some can be. Specific symptoms should alert you to seek medical attention. Some of those symptoms include:

    • Fever
    • Blisters
    • Pus-like liquid coming out of the rash
    • Red streaks in the rash
    • Severe pain
    • A rash that spreads from the neck quickly
  • Will a neck rash go away on its own?

    Some rashes can go away on their own, depending on the cause. For example, a rash that develops because of an allergen or irritant will disappear if you avoid contact with that substance. On the other hand, a rash caused by a skin disorder isn’t likely to go away without treatment.

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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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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.