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Chloracne or Acneform Disease and Agent Orange

VA presumes chloracne (or other similar acneform disease) in Veterans is related to their exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service when the disease appears within one year of exposure to Agent Orange to a degree of at least 10 percent disabling by VA’s rating regulations.

About chloracne

Chloracne is a rare skin eruption of blackheads, cysts and nodules, which has been linked directly to dioxin exposure. Mild forms may resemble teenage acne. Physicians sometimes have difficulty distinguishing chloracne from more common skin disorders.

Chloracne is a well established, long-term effect of exposure to TCDD or dioxin, a contaminant in Agent Orange. It is the only skin disorder consistently reported to be associated specifically with Agent Orange and other herbicides. However, not all persons exposed to dioxin develop chloracne.

close up of chloracne on a person's face 

Chloracne

Symptoms include excessive oiliness of the skin and the appearance of numerous blackheads, often accompanied by fluid-filled cysts and dark body hair. In mild cases, blackheads may be limited to the area around the eyes, extending along the temples to the ears. In more severe cases, blackheads also may appear in other places, especially over the cheek bone area, other facial areas, behind the ears, and along the arms. Severe chloracne may lead to open sores and permanent scars.

Skin may become thicker and flake or peel. The condition fades slowly after exposure. Minor cases may disappear altogether, but more severe cases may persist for years after the exposure.

VA benefits for chloracne or similar acneform disease

Veterans with chloracne (or other similar acneform disease) that appeared within one year of exposure to herbicides during service to a degree of at least 10 percent disabling by VA’s rating regulations may be eligible for disability compensation and health care.

Veterans who served in Vietnam, the Korean demilitarized zone or another area where Agent Orange was sprayed may be eligible for a free Agent Orange registry health exam.

Surviving spouses, dependent children and dependent parents of Veterans who were exposed to herbicides during military service and died as the result of chloracne (or other similar acneform disease) may be eligible for survivors' benefits.

Research on chloracne and herbicides

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences concluded in its 1994 report on "Veterans and Agent Orange: Health Effects of Herbicides Used in Vietnam", as well as in 1996, 1998, 2002, and 2004 updates, that there is a positive association between chloracne and exposure to dioxin in Agent Orange.

View more research on health effects of Agent Orange.

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