How to identify a red rash on the neck

Updated March 23, 2017

A red rash can be flat, raised, round, spread out, itchy, concentric, pimply, pus-filled, crusted or painful. It can be contagious, associated with fever or allergy or you can be born with it. With so much variance in appearance of red neck rashes, identification may be an overwhelming task. Some rashes will disappear untreated, and some require urgent medical attention. If you're uncertain and symptoms prevail, check with a dermatologist or go to your nearest ER for a diagnosis and treatment.

Check to see if the rash is raised. If the red neck rash is raised, it will be easy to feel a bump when you rub your fingers over it. Examples of raised rashes are hives, small red bumps and welts, large red swellings. These kinds of rashes can indicate allergy and may also be itchy. Measles and Roseola appear as red bumps and have associated high fevers.

Feel if the rash is flat. If the rash is flat it will be smooth and even with the surrounding skin and you won't feel anything on the skin. Many birthmarks appear shortly after birth and appear blotchy, flat and can be red or purple-red. Another example of a flat red rash is Poikiloderma of Civatte, found on fair-skinned adults who have had excessive sun exposure.

Ask if it hurts. A boil, or furuncle is a painful pus-filled sore usually resulting from the deep infection at the site of a hair follicle. This type of infection is usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and requires antibiotic treatment.

Determine if the rash is itchy. Chickenpox starts out as small red itchy bumps that become pustules and then crust over. Pustules are highly contagious. Poison ivy is also an itchy rash, but appears as red patches. You can get it by coming in contact with your pets that have been exposed to the plant.

See if the rash is pimply. A pimply rash will look like small raised bumps that have a tiny white centre. Examples of pimples are neonatal acne in babies from birth to about 4 weeks old. Heat rash is another common rash that babies can get from exposure to excessive heat or from clothing that is constrictive or too warm.

Feel if the rash is scaly or crusty. Ringworm presents as a rash with one or several concentric rings. They flake and the sore looks as if it has dandruff. Eczema also is itchy and flakes.

Look for red pustules. These appear as small, pus-filled blisters. Sometimes a fever or swollen lymph glands in the neck are associated with these bumps, and could indicate impetigo.

Check for associated fever. Roseola, rubella and measles are associated with high fever, swollen lymph nodes and red bumpy rash.

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About the Author

Erin Moseley is an advocate for science education. Since 1985, she has written numerous technical, user and training manuals for major corporations, public agencies and universities. She holds a Bachelor of Science in geology.