Are you a veteran experiencing the uncomfortable and disfiguring symptoms of chloracne?
This skin condition can cause significant physical and emotional distress, leading to feelings of self-consciousness and social isolation.
Fortunately, as a veteran, you could be eligible for VA care with healthcare and VA disability. In this article, we’ll dive into chloracne’s causes, symptoms, and impact on veterans, as well as the process for filing a successful VA disability claim.
- What is Chloracne?
- What causes chloracne in veterans?
- How does chloracne impact veterans?
- Are you eligible to file a VA claim for chloracne?
- How the VA Rates Chloracne
- Earn the Rating You Deserve
- NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
What is Chloracne?
Chloracne is a skin condition that can develop after exposure to certain toxic chemicals, including dioxins and other industrial pollutants.
Chloracne is often confused with traditional acne because it shares many of the same symptoms, such as blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts. However, there are some significant differences between the two conditions.
For one, chloracne tends to be more severe and longer-lasting than traditional acne, with lesions that may persist for years.
Additionally, chloracne is typically linked to exposure to certain toxic chemicals, such as dioxins and other industrial pollutants, whereas traditional acne is not. Chloracne has been directly linked to exposure to Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.
The symptoms of chloracne can vary in severity and may include the following:
- Blackheads and whiteheads on the face, neck, and upper body
- Cysts and pustules that can be painful or itchy
- Large, reddish-brown lesions
- Blisters or sores on the skin
- Flaky or peeling skin
- Scarring or pigmentation changes
- In some cases, chloracne may also be accompanied by other health issues, including fatigue, joint pain, and digestive problems.
While some cases of chloracne are mild to moderate, the condition can also become severe and lead to the development of thick, dark hair on the face or neck and fluid-filled cysts.
These cysts are particularly problematic if you’re seeking treatment. They may rupture and spread pus to other pores, potentially causing more cysts or blackheads. As a result, treating chloracne can be a complex and lengthy process, often requiring frequent visits to your dermatologist.
You need to seek medical attention if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. A healthcare provider can diagnose chloracne and provide appropriate treatment. A diagnosis of chloracne can also be vital evidence to support a VA claim for compensation related to Agent Orange exposure.
As a veteran with chloracne, your treatment plan will depend on your symptoms’ severity and overall health.
Your doctor may suggest a combination of therapies, such as topical retinoids, oral antibiotics, and laser therapy.
It’s also essential to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals that may worsen your condition by using protective clothing and gear.
Lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and practicing stress reduction techniques may help manage your symptoms. Work closely with your doctor to create a personalized treatment plan that works best for you.
What causes chloracne in veterans?
As mentioned above, chloracne can be caused by exposure to certain toxic chemicals, particularly dioxins, an industrial pollutant. Veterans who served in the Vietnam War may have been exposed to dioxins through contact with Agent Orange. This herbicide was widely used during the war.
Dioxins can also be found in specific industrial settings, such as chemical manufacturing plants and waste incineration facilities, as well as in some consumer products, such as PVC plastics and bleached paper products.
When dioxins enter the body, they can disrupt the normal functioning of the sebaceous glands, which produce the oils that lubricate the skin. This can cause the glands to produce excessive sebum, leading to blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of acne-like lesions characteristic of chloracne.
In some cases, chloracne can persist for years or even decades after exposure to the toxic chemicals has ceased, which is why you may be experiencing chloracne after you leave military service.
How does chloracne impact veterans?
If you’re a veteran with chloracne, it can significantly affect you physically and emotionally.
The discomfort, pain, and scarring caused by this skin condition can be challenging to manage.
Its visible and often disfiguring appearance can lead to feelings of self-consciousness and low self-esteem. You may feel embarrassed or ashamed of your condition, especially if it’s on your neck or face, which can lead to social isolation and avoidance of social situations, such as work events or family gatherings. Even simple tasks like going to the grocery store can become overwhelming.
Managing chloracne may require ongoing medical treatment and monitoring, which can be time-consuming and expensive. All of these factors combined can have a profound impact on your quality of life. It’s important to seek medical attention and support to help manage chloracne’s physical and emotional effects.
Are you eligible to file a VA claim for chloracne?
To win a VA claim for chloracne, you’ll need to prove three things:
- You have current symptoms of chloracne
- You have an in-service event or injury that led to your development of chloracne (i.e.: exposure to Agent Orange)
- Your current symptoms are linked to your service (service connection)
Getting Service Connected for Chloracne
Service connection links a veteran’s military service and a medical condition. The three main service connection types are direct, secondary, and presumptive. For chloracne, the most relevant type of service connection is presumptive.
Presumptive service connection for chloracne is granted to veterans exposed to herbicides during their Vietnam service. They must experience chloracne within one year of exposure, with a minimum rating of 10%. Chloracne is one of two presumptive skin conditions related to Agent Orange (the other is porphyria cutanea tarda).
Proving through medical records that you began experiencing symptoms of chloracne within one year of service can help you service connect your condition, even if it’s years after you left military service.
If you served in Vietnam, the Korean DMZ, or another area where Agent Orange was used, you can request a free Agent Orange registry health exam. This helps you begin tracking any symptoms or other long-term health effects.
How the VA Rates Chloracne
Depending on your chloracne’s severity, the VA will likely rate you from 0% to 30%.
There are a few different rating methods the VA may use for you. The VA will rate your chloracne based on how it’s impacting you most, using the formula that gives you the highest rating. The VA will rate your chloracne based on Diagnostic Code 7829 or for any scarring (DC 7801, 7802, or 7804). Let’s start with DC 7829 first.
30% VA Rating for Chloracne
To be rated at 30%, your chloracne must be deep and affect 40% or more of your face and neck, causing inflammation and pus-filled cysts.
20% VA Rating for Chloracne
To be rated at 20%, your chloracne must affect at least one of the following areas: armpits, the genital region, the folds of the breast, or the areas between the fingers and toes, causing inflammation and pus-filled cysts.
10% VA Rating for Chloracne
To be rated at 10%, your chloracne must be deep but affect less than 40% of your face and neck. It could also impact areas other than your face and neck, causing inflammation and pus-filled cysts.
0% VA Rating for Chloracne
At the 0% rating, your chloracne is superficial, involving only one layer of the skin and not causing pus-filled cysts.
To learn more about earning a rating for any scarring caused by chloracne, read our guide to get a VA rating for scars.
Earn the Rating You Deserve
If you’re suffering from chloracne, take the time to file a VA claim for this condition. Not only can you get covered for dermatological care by the VA, but you could also earn monthly compensation through VA disability. Don’t let chloracne impact your quality of life any longer than necessary.
NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and, therefore, not getting their due compensation. At VA Claims Insider, we help you understand and take control of the claims process, so you can get the rating and compensation you’re owed by law.
Our process takes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and supports you every step of the way in building a fully-developed claim (FDC)—so you can increase your rating FAST! If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating—or you’re unsure how to get started—reach out to us! Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call. Learn what you’ve been missing—so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation YOU DESERVE!
Trisha Penrod is a former active-duty Air Force officer. As an Intelligence Officer, she led teams of analysts to apply advanced analytic skills to identify, assess, and report potential threats to U.S. forces.
Trisha attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and holds an MBA from Webster University. After receiving an honorable discharge in 2018, Trisha worked as a growth marketer and utilizes her analytic skills to help others accomplish their business goals.