Burning your neck can be very uncomfortable, and it can happen in a number of ways, including:
- curling iron burn
- friction burn
- razor burn
Each of these injuries should be taken care of in different ways. Keep reading to learn how you can treat each of these common types of burns at home and when it’s time to see a doctor.
When styling your hair with a curling iron or flat iron, you’re working close to your skin with a very hot tool. If the iron gets too close to the skin and touches it, the result can be a minor burn on your neck, forehead, face, or even your hand.
In most cases, this brief contact with a hot tool to the skin will result in a first-degree burn. But if the hot tool isn’t immediately removed from the skin, it could result in a second-degree burn.
Here’s how these two types of burns differ:
- First-degree burn. This is a superficial epidermal burn in which the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis, is damaged. It may be painful. Your skin will likely be red and slightly swollen, but it won’t blister.
- Second-degree burn. This is a superficial dermal burn where the epidermis and part of the second layer of skin, or dermis, are damaged. It may cause severe pain, and your skin will most likely be pink, red, white, or mottled. The burned area might swell, and blisters may develop. A deep second-degree burns can cause scarring.
Treating a curling iron burn
The majority of minor burns will heal in a couple of weeks with at-home treatments and remedies.
Follow these steps to treat a minor curling iron burn:
- Cool down the area. If the burn is on your neck or face, apply a cool, wet compress. If the burn is also on your hand or wrist, hold it under cool running water. Use cool (not cold) water, and don’t apply ice to the burn.
- Moisturize. Once you’ve cooled down the burn, apply a moisturizing lotion to provide relief and prevent the area from drying out.
- Don’t break the blisters. Because fluid-filled blisters protect you against infection, try not to break them. If one should break, clean the area with water and apply an antibiotic ointment.
- Bandage. Gently cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage. Avoid putting pressure on the burned area. Don’t use fluffy cotton that could leave fibers in the healing area.
- Medicate. If you need pain relief, take an over-the-counter (OTC) medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
- Follow up. Once the burn has healed, apply a moisturizer and sunscreen regularly to the area to protect the sensitive skin.
Even if the burn was minor, consider getting a tetanus booster if you haven’t had one in the last 10 years to prevent bacteria growth.
Treating a sunburn on your neck — or anywhere else on your body — doesn’t actually heal your skin, but it can address symptoms such as discomfort and swelling.
To treat your sunburn:
- Take OTC pain relievers. To help control swelling and pain, take an OTC pain reliever, such as naproxen sodium (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Motrin).
- Cool off. A cool compress or bath may offer some relief.
- Moisturize. Calamine lotion or lotions or gels containing aloe vera can be soothing.
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Protect your blisters. If your skin blisters, leave the blisters alone. If one should break, wash the area with water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and then use a nonstick bandage to cover it.
- Don’t pick. If the sunburned area starts to peel, continue to moisturize, but don’t pick at the peeling skin.
- Protect. If you can’t stay out of the sun, protect your skin by covering it with clothing or applying sunscreen or sunblock.
If these procedures don’t help, or if your sunburn is severe, talk to your doctor about additional steps for treating the burn.
A friction burn is an abrasion caused by something rubbing against your skin. Common causes of mild friction burns are rope burns and rug burns.
A friction burn on your neck might be caused by a seat belt shoulder strap or even chaffing from a stiff collar.
Since a mild friction burn only damages the epidermis, it’ll usually heal on its own. Moisturize the area, and consider using a barrier to protect the skin from whatever was chafing against it and causing the irritation.
Razor burn isn’t a traditional burn. It’s a skin irritation caused by shaving, and it can affect any part of the body that’s being shaved, including your neck. It shouldn’t be confused with razor bumps, which are the result of ingrown hairs.
Razor burn is commonly characterized by:
- small red bumps
- burning sensation
The first step to treating razor burn is to avoid shaving the area until it heals. To alleviate discomfort, consider applying a cool, damp cloth to the area followed by a moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated and flexible.
A burn on your neck should be treated according to what caused it.
While treatments vary depending on the type of burn, it’s important to keep the area clean, moisturized, and protected from bacteria and further irritation.
Most mild burns clear up relatively quickly with at-home treatments and remedies. However, it’s important to see a doctor if the burn is severe or not healing properly.