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To ask if anyone has advice about an itchy head/neck (with pic)

(43 Posts)
LadyLaSnack Sat 27-Jun-20 14:02:15

Any advice hugely appreciated. This itch is driving me absolutely wild.

I've had a very itchy head and neck, covered with little hard bumps since just before Christmas (7 months). I was in the process of being referred to dermatology before the pandemic meant that my appointment was cancelled.


Incessant itch on head and neck + sometimes outsides of ears (nowhere else)
Hard sore/itchy bumps under skin
Bad all the time, but gets even worse at night (usually when I wake up very hot and scratchy - maybe very slight temporary improvement after morning shower)
No dandruff or flakes or grease (condition of hair is fine)
No hairloss so far (though all this scratching can't be good)

Things I have tried which haven't worked:

Being checked for nits:
GP has checked, husband has checked + it's been 6 months and have seen no trace of nits on myself/bedding/kids etc.

Antihistamines (Fexofenadine Hydrochloride):
I take one daily in the morning prescribed by GP for this problem.
These help a bit, but the itch never goes away, and comes back with a vengeance overnight (maybe when drug leaves my system or maybe when I get hot when I'm asleep)

Not washing hair with shampoo (just water):
Managed a week of this, but the itch was no better (might even have felt worse due to the greasy hair factor)

Apple cider vinegar:
Have tried both rinsing with this, and leaving it in. After the initial sting, my head wasn't itchy whist the vinegar was in my hair!! Relief!! But as soon as I rinsed it out the itch returned - tried a few days of this.

Other products I have tried which don't help (each tried for a minimum of a few days in a row):

T-Gel Shampoo
Alphosyl Shampoo
Pine Tar Shampoo
Dermol-500 (ecsema cream which can be used as shampoo)
Aveeno Shampoo
Johnsons Baby Shampoo
Little Goat Shampoo bar (with Neem)
Poo-Free Shampoo (with Tea-tree, apple cider vinegar + aloe)
Moo-Go Shampoo

I'm not generally a person who suffers from allergies except with insect bites I often get a reaction (huge half-orange sized bumps with mosquitoes).

In case it's relevant - the itching started during a particularly stressful time at work (but not sure it's related to this).

Has anyone had anything like this who can offer any advice. I'm losing the ability to be upbeat about it and although it's not terribly painful, just the incessant itch + scratching + worry about hairloss is becoming completely miserable, plus I think all my colleagues now think I have nits as I'm scratching my way through long daily zoom meetings.

Pic of my neck here - my the bumps on my scalp feel the same as the ones on my neck.

Thanks for reading.

Scratch scratch

OP’s posts: |
LadyLaSnack Sat 27-Jun-20 14:04:05

Sorry - didn't mean to add a vote.

OP’s posts: |
Duckduckduck123 Sat 27-Jun-20 14:18:02

flowers hopeful bump for you

Coughsyrupsucks Sat 27-Jun-20 14:20:29

What pillows do you have? Have you changed them for something different. My Mum has something similar turned out she was allergic to feathers. If it gets worse at night, bedding wouldn’t be the first thing to look at?

MrsVeryTired Sat 27-Jun-20 14:27:07

Looks and sounds a bit like eczema to me, I get little red bumps with mine, sometimes its an allergy, sometimes its washing my hands too much (mine is usually on my hands). I would try a mild steroid cream (eg hydrocortisone) if you can't get to a dermatologist. Mine is intensely itchy. Stress is common cause of eczema too.

Agree with above though, allergy to bedding might be possibility.

MumW Sat 27-Jun-20 14:29:03

Hypecal cream which is a homeopathic ointment (hypericum & calendula)
Tea tree or lavender oil - also good if scratching causes infection.
Do 24 hour test patch on your wrist before trying on your neck.


With t-gel and possibly the other, I would wash less frequently and definitely not everyday. I think more than a few days to do a proper test, more like several weeks.

Cathpot Sat 27-Jun-20 14:30:25

My DH is allergic to memory foam and came up in a neck rash

PlanDeRaccordement Sat 27-Jun-20 14:37:17

Well, you’ve done a great job ruling out the most common culprits of SLS (sulfates), parabens, perfumes, fungal/dandruff infection, etc.

One thing left that might be causing this hard water. Hard water can over time irritate skin and cause dermatitis. Especially on head/neck if usually take a hot shower to wash up. Secondly, you mentioned your only relief was when you used apple cider vinegar and that the relief was temporary. Apple cider vinegar dissolves the itch causing mineral deposits that hard water can leave on your scalp and skin. So that’s another clue that you might be reacting to hard water.

And it does not matter if you have lived in same place for years, you can develop sensitivity to hard water at any time.

Are you in U.K. or US? Can give you a few links to help depending on where you live.

Milicentbystander72 Sat 27-Jun-20 14:37:45

I have psoriasis and (a few weeks) after a very stressful time I come out with scalp psoriasis that causes untold itching.

However looking at your neck photo it doesn't look like scalp psoriasis to me. Hmmm.

It really does look like an allergy to something but you say anti-histamines have not helped?

I would put hope in seeing a dermatologist. Every time I've seen a specialist they've been incredibly knowledgeable and helped me loads. My dd also has psoriasis and has had relief from specialist help.

Just a random thought - scabies??? (Although I'm sure that would be all over your body).

PlanDeRaccordement Sat 27-Jun-20 14:40:23

I agree also with checking your bedding. You might be allergic to polyester...many sheets are “easycare” or a poly-cotton blend. You could try getting 100% cotton pillow cases and seeing if that helps.

summerfruitssquash Sat 27-Jun-20 14:42:05


picklemewalnuts Sat 27-Jun-20 14:52:49

Ds had a kind of spreading heat rash like this. Once it started it wouldn't go. It's pernicious, sort of vicious circle.

Do the areas not in the hair respond to hydrocortisone? Use it on any patches you can reach.
Try a different type of antihistamine, and try taking morning and evening.
Use aloe gel on your scalp- it's soothing and cooling.

It will work within a couple of days, if it's going to. Worth a try.

When it clears, pay attention to any signs of it coming back. It need nipping in the bud.

mrwalkensir Sat 27-Jun-20 14:53:37

Also maybe use ecoballs to wash bedding rather than soap powder. This helped our son a lot.

madnessitellyou Sat 27-Jun-20 15:01:04

My dad has this and it’s nothing to do with his skin; it’s his kidneys. He suffered for years going back and forth with dermatology and absolutely nothing helped. Have you had a blood test?

LadyLaSnack Sat 27-Jun-20 15:02:55

Thanks so much for your comments everyone. Just you guys trying to help has made me feel a bit better. I've googled it (to death) and from what I can see, my symptoms don't match scabies or psoriasis as there is no dryness. It more like a prickly heat rash (but much more itchy than when I've had that once or twice in childhood).

It stops dead at the base of my neck (nothing at all on my shoulders) which is also where my hair stops, so I'd ruled out an allergy to my bedding (pillowcases are same fabric as sheets - cotton). Hadn't thought about an allergy to the contents of my pillow though. I'll maybe switch to something different to try.

The hard water thing is interesting. I had read a comment on a forum about that elsewhere. I live near Glasgow/Stirling in the UK PlanDeRaccordement. Not sure how hard the water is here. I did live in London for years without a problem but like you say it could have come on.

Interesting re. eczema - my son has that, so could try some of his hydrocortizone for a few days.

And thank you MumW for the treatment reccs. I will check those out.

Again - thank you all for replying. I'm just taking the kids out for a runaround but will check back in later.

OP’s posts: |
LadyLaSnack Sat 27-Jun-20 15:05:14

Interesting re. your Dad's kidneys madness. No blood test yet.

OP’s posts: |
JustC Sat 27-Jun-20 15:06:18

Hm have you tried any antifungal cresm on it?

BeKindOrBeQuiet Sat 27-Jun-20 15:07:18

I'd try some hydrocortisone on it, you can buy some from boots.

Have you tried Calomine lotion?

Could well be stress related I get an itchy hives rash on the back of my neck for days when I'm stressed out

littleblackno Sat 27-Jun-20 15:08:14

I had something similar and cut out sugar (I cant remember now how I came to that idea but there was rationale at the time.)
It totally worked. I had a rash in my scalp that then spread all over my body/ torso it was so itchy and sore.
It took about 2 weeks but totally cleared up.
To be fair I am still totally addicted to sugar although at that time I was eating even more junk food than normal.
Could it be worth checking your diet?

Etinox Sat 27-Jun-20 15:17:56

Cut your nails very short and leave it alone. You’ve got into an itch scratch cycle. It’ll only take a few days to clear.
I had arms like a 3rd degree burns victim several years running after seasonal allergies> scratching> antihistamines> reacting to antihistamines> scratching etc.
DS, then 10, said just stop it.
Every year I get a little redness and itching and have to be very very careful not to scratch, to keep the area dry and aired but it doesn’t recur.

PlanDeRaccordement Sat 27-Jun-20 15:23:41

I think we can rule out hard water as you live in a soft water area being up in Scotland. If you lived in Ipswich, Suffolk (SE England) different story.
You’ve ruled out pillow cases.
Maybe one of the other ideas will be it. Good luck finding cause and stopping the itch.

NerdyBird Sat 27-Jun-20 15:32:00

Could it possibly be rosacea caused by demodex mite? They live naturally on our skin but in some people an overgrowth of them causes a reaction. Only mentioning it because you say you have reactions to other types of bite. I hope you find a solution whatever it is. I am allergic to salicylic acid and derivatives, can't use any products with them in on my face or hair otherwise I get itchy. Took a while to work that one out.

nitgel Sat 27-Jun-20 15:37:07

Do you use anything containing beeswax?

Puffalicious Sat 27-Jun-20 15:44:33

Hey OP I'm in Glasgow too (waves). I used to have a ridiculously itchy scalp- nothing touched it including lots of the things you've mentioned. I also had urticaria and could never find what caused it. Dermatologist suggested a food diary- cutting out sugar made some difference but not hugely significant. Leaving it alone certainly helped, bit I know how hard that is! I am very allergenic (the triangle of asthma/ hayfever/ eczemal) and have used anti-histamines all my life. I have no magic wands for you, but I have grown out of it: the past 5 years or so it has just gradually disappeared. My GP/ dermatologist have no explanation except perhaps hormonal (I'm 48, had my last DC at 40).

I still need to be careful and use very gentle formulations for everything- no perfumes/ SLS/ Parabens etc. Aveeno shampoo is my go to. I still struggle with conditioner at times (Aveeno doesn't do one) I'm okay for a few weeks then my head has enough and I need to change. Yestocarrots is working presently.

Good luck, I know how awful it

Dancingwithunicorns Sat 27-Jun-20 15:56:43

I went through something similar for months too, GP prescribed and advised everything you tried.

In the end I was looking up recipe ideas for the keto diet I’d been following for several months, and came across ‘keto rash’. I upped my sugars a little and it disappeared. You haven’t been doing anything similar have you? Or like a pp said, maybe too much sugar?

It drove me mad, I even saw a private doctor who said urticaria, but antihistamines and steroids didn’t make a bit of difference. You have my sympathies it is utterly miserable!

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