ZocdocAnswersWhat is the itchy red patch of skin on my neck?

Question

What is the itchy red patch of skin on my neck?

I'm a 32 year old female fundraiser. This past winter my skin has been notably dry and itchy - especially my hands. Recently, a patch on my neck has been itchy and red - but not raised at all. It doesn’t itch constantly – more in the evening. The skin has been dry, almost scaly. Basic lotion does not seem to help it at all.

Answer

This seems most likely to be eczema, or atopic dermatitis, which is very common in winter month because the dry air tends to worsen the loss of moisture and protective oils from the skin. Generally, the treatment is straightforward. First, it is important to avoid drying out the skin. You can do these essentially by showering less often (less than once a day, ideally), using a mild soap, and limiting your use of very hot water. Immediately upon exiting the shower, you should dry yourself by dabbing rather than rubbing and apply a good skin moisturizer. The best moisturizers to use are thick "greasy" moisturizers like petrolatum, as these best trap in the skin's oils and moisture. It is best to apply this multiple times per day in addition to applying it after each time you shower. Additionally a simple over the counter steroid cream will help to reduce the inflammation in the one spot that is particular red and itchy. Using all of these methods together, you should begin to experience relief within a week or two. If not, then you should set up an office visit with your primary care doctor to see if additional treatments are needed.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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