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Black Neck: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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The black neck is a popular term used in describing a condition where the skin on a person’s neck is obviously darker than the skin on other parts of the body, also commonly called “dark neck.”

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Nobody who notices the change in color in their neck will be pleased. This it is common to be alarmed and feel self-conscience; nevertheless, in most cases, it is not a cause for concern; neither is it contagious.

However, in some cases, skin darkening may not be ordinary, as it can be a warning sign of a more severe condition, so you must consult a doctor to determine the root cause and start any necessary treatment as quickly as possible.

Read further to learn more about the possible causes of black neck, symptoms, and how you can treat it.

Symptoms of black neck

The main symptom of a dark neck is a darkening or blackening of the skin on a person’s neck area. In a few cases, the neck darkening may also have an adverse effect on other parts of a person’s body, mostly the armpits.

Other symptoms that may follow a dark neck include:

  • skin that feels velvety to the touch
  • thickened skin
  • itchiness

If the skin darkening suddenly appears, make sure you consult a doctor, as it may be a sign of a more dangerous underlying condition.

Possible causes of black neck

Darkening of the skin on the neck may be triggered by various conditions, including the ones below:

Acanthosis nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is an illness in which the skin changes to a dark and thick texture that may feel velvety. It can show up on a person’s neck, in several folds of skin, and other places on the body.

It is most popularly found in the armpit areas, but sometimes in other creases such as in the groin. It can show up in children, men, and women, and may occur more in people who have darker skin.

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AN is not a disease; neither is it harmful or contagious on its own. It is most often related to a person’s insulin level and is usually seen in people with diabetes or prediabetes.

Children who have AN stand a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Some other more dangerous underlying conditions that AN may signal include:

  • Cancer
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Obesity
  • Hormonal disorders

AN may also be triggered by different supplements and drugs, including birth control pills, niacin, prednisone, and some other corticosteroids.

Treatments for AN usually tackle the underlying condition responsible for AN. If that is not successful, then a person may be treated with medication for the skin, such as vitamin D creams or retinoids.

Dermatitis neglecta

Dermatitis neglecta is not a very common condition in people who maintain proper hygiene.

It is an irritation in which a person’s skin changes color due to the fact that it hasn’t been appropriately bathed. It happens after bacteria, sweat, sebum, and other matters accumulate due to a lack of proper hygiene.

Also popularly known as “unwashed dermatosis,” it is a very rare disorder, but it can easily be treated by adequately scrubbing the area with alcohol, soap, or water and prevented by maintaining regular personal hygiene.

Hyperpigmentation (Drug-induced skin pigmentation)

Hyperpigmentation of the skin can occur when a person abuses some drugs, including but not limited to, the following:

  • Phenytoin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Antimalarials
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Amiodarone
  • Tetracyclines

The discoloration can show up anywhere on the body, and that includes the neck. The change in colors ranges from light to dark brown then as deep as a blue-black.

It typically will vanish once the drug that is responsible for it is stopped; however, sometimes, the discoloration could be long-term and maybe permanent.

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In those cases, laser treatments might be able to get rid of the hyperpigmentation.

How is a black neck diagnosed?

Because the black neck is not a disease but a symptom of another condition that may or may not be dangerous, it is essential to consult a doctor if you find a darkening anywhere on your skin or neck.

AN can easily be diagnosed with basics in check, but your doctor will most likely check you for conditions like diabetes and may carry out additional tests like blood tests and X-rays that are based on your other symptoms.

Treatment for black neck

Treating the root cause or condition that may be responsible for your darkened neck is imperative to eliminating and preventing it from happening again.

In a few cases, the discoloration may fix itself when the condition is treated, or in the instance of drug-induced hyperpigmentation, there will be changes when the medication is stopped.

For example, most cases of AN is as a result of insulin resistance, which can often be fixed with weight loss. Even if you have treated the underlying condition, long-term or permanent discoloration of the neck area that was affected may remain, which may cause you to feel self-conscious.

There are countless options that may be helpful when it comes to returning your skin to its original color. While a few may be better for some specific skin tones, your dermatologist or doctor can help to determine treatment, which may be most effective for you.

The treatment options available for the black neck may include any of the following:

Prescription medications including salicylic acid, Retin-A, and alpha hydroxy acids, as well as oral acne medications

The conclusion

Dark neck is not a harmful or contagious disease or condition on its own. However, it may be the sign or symptom of a more severe skin condition, so you may see your doctor when you notice the first signs of your skin darkening.

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Your doctor can help to diagnose and treat the underlying cause as well as profer treatment options that will help your skin get back to its initial color.

I hope that you found this article helpful. Please do not hesitate to share this article and leave a comment below.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.
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