It seems innocuous at first, just a small mark. But suddenly it’s drawing the stares of your friends, family, and strangers on the street. You have a violin hickey.
Also known as fiddler’s neck, violin hickeys are red marks that appear on violinists’ necks for a variety of reasons. One of the more common reasons these spots appear is length of practice time, making them a badge of honor for both amateur and professional players.
However, this “mark of greatness” can actually be a sign of health problems. Violin hickeys are known to dermatologists as acne mechanica. They can cause scaling and scarring of the musician’s neck if they become irritated enough or are caused by an underlying sensitivity or health issue.
Is it the Violin or the Violinist?
Are you concerned about your bruising or inflammation? It is possible to be allergic to material on the violin. Some musicians are unaware that they may have an allergy or hypersensitivity to their instrument’s chin rest, which plays a significant role in the development of rashes.
Bacteria can also develop on improperly cleaned instruments, and players with sensitive skin may in addition find that they are allergic or sensitive to certain types of violin cleaner.
The chin rests of most stringed instruments have screws made of an assortment of metals. If a player is allergic to nickel or some of the other materials commonly found in chin rest screws, it can greatly increase the possibility of developing a violin hickey. Other causes could be rubbing or scraping caused by the way a player holds the instrument on his or her neck. Some people may even find that they are allergic to the ebony or rosewood used in the composition of violins.
Finding Your Solution
Should a violin hickey become overly inflamed or irritating there are a multitude of solutions. One of the best courses of action is working with a dermatologist to determine if you have sensitive skin or allergies to certain metals, materials, or cleaners. The dermatologist may recommend soothing creams to reduce redness and irritation.
If you have an allergy to metal, swapping out the nickel screws in your instrument’s chin rest with hypoallergenic ones should help relieve your symptoms. Other solutions could be switching from a chemical cleaner to a gentler soap or swab. Some musicians even put cloth over their chin rests to avoid any excess rubbing.
At Johnson String Instrument we can help you shop violin chin rests and for other equipment and necessities. Our website not only provides a wide variety of high quality products, but we also have the expertise to advise you on any of your individual needs and concerns on everything from violin hickeys to the best practicing techniques.