Fiddler's neck: A review | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Fiddler's neck: A review

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February 20, 2017
by Calvin W. Myint, MD; Amy L. Rutt, DO; Robert T. Sataloff, MD, DMA, FACS

Abstract

Fiddler's neck is a common dermatologic condition associated with instrument use in violin and viola players. It typically manifests as a submandibular and/or supraclavicular lesion. It is a benign condition, but it may be mistaken for lymphedema or a salivary gland malignancy. Otolaryngologists who treat patients with fiddler's neck should be aware of appropriate management protocols and the need to avoid surgical excision. We obtained informed consent from 3 violinists to present their cases as specific examples of fiddler's neck. In addition, we present a literature review based on our PubMed search for articles about this instrument-induced dermatitis. The literature suggests that submandibular fiddler's neck is caused by mechanical pressure and shear stress on the skin and that it can present as erythema, scarring, edema, and lichenification. Supraclavicular fiddler's neck, on the other hand, is caused by allergic contact dermatitis, and it can present as an eczematous, scaly, and/or vesicular lesion. In most cases, a good history (especially of string instrument use), physical examination, and a patch test are sufficient to diagnose this condition. Management of fiddler's neck includes a topical steroid, proper instrument handling, neck padding, changing the instrument's materials, and/or reducing the amount of playing time. Surgical excision is usually not advisable.

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