Fiddler’s neck: Cultural influences modify clinical presentation influences

Sundeep Chowdhry, Sameeksha Chand, Paschal D'Souza


Fiddler’s neck which is also referred to as a “violin hickey” is a benign dermatologic occupational disease associated with the use of certain instruments like the violin, viola, cello etc. It is believed to be a type of allergic contact dermatitis, manifesting as an acute or chronic eczematous lesion typically at the submandibular and/or supraclavicular region on the side of neck. It can present as erythema, oedema and/or vesicles in the acute stage and as scaling, lichenification, hyperpigmentation and scarring in the chronic stage. Acne mechanica has also been considered by some authors as a presentation of fiddler’s neck. Occasionally, there may be associated swelling redness or a cystic lesion that makes it difficult to differentiate from lymphedema or a salivary gland tumor. PubMed search for articles about this entity resulting in instrument-induced dermatitis yielded few results of this forgotten entity which mimics a love bite (love hickey). For diagnosis, history of the usage of a string instrument which is held between the shoulder and neck, local physical examination and a positive patch test are pre-requisites. Management of fiddler’s neck includes application of topical mild steroid, emollient, proper instrument handling, neck padding, changing the material and polish of the instrument, and/or reducing the amount of playing time. Surgical intervention is usually not advisable unless cystic or tumorous lesions are the manifesting feature. The authors intend to revisit this entity and report an improvised modality that is being used by these instrumentalists in India which may help in prevention of this condition.


Fiddler’s neck; violin hickey; instrument induced dermatitis; allergic contact dermatitis; acne mechanica

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