Chloracne is a skin condition that can resemble teenage acne and many Vietnam veterans have it because of Agent Orange.
From 1961 to 1971, U.S. military forces sprayed more than 20 million gallons of powerful herbicides over Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
One of the most commonly used herbicides was Agent Orange, now known to contain the deadly chemical dioxin. Today, physicians can link exposure to Agent Orange to myriad health conditions including cancer, psychological disorders, birth defects, and more.
Chloracne is a rare skin disease that causes brown spots, blackheads, cysts, and nodules to erupt on the affected skin. If you are a U.S. military veteran experiencing these issues, you could be eligible for disability compensation and health care.
In This Article About Agent Orange Chloracne VA Disability:
- What is Chloracne?
- Determining VA Eligibility
- Lifestyle Difficulties of Chloracne
- What Causes Chloracne?
- What Are the Effects of Chloracne?
- The VA Disability Process for Chloracne
- Other Conditions Like Cholracne
- Applying for VA Benefits
- Get the VA Disability Compensation You Deserve
What is Chloracne?
Chloracne is a skin condition that develops a few months after swallowing, inhaling, or touching certain chemicals known as toxic halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons. Dioxins are included in these compounds.
Dioxins, as well as Dioxin-like compounds, are byproducts that result from some manufacturing processes, including paper bleaching and herbicide production. As mentioned, dioxin was present in the Agent Orange herbicide heavily distributed during the Vietnam War.
As such, chloracne is considered one of the many presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange.
Though chloracne sounds like “acne”, it is not related to that skin condition. Rather, it’s more clearly defined by its associated acronym, MADISH. This stands for Metabolising Acquired Dioxin Induced Skin Hamartomas.
A hamartoma is a type of noncancerous tumor. It develops when normal tissues and cells grow into an abnormal combination. Hamartomas are usually located on the face, neck, and head, though they can grow on any area of the body.
Determining VA Eligibility
Are you a veteran suffering from chloracne and seeking compensation for your disability? The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has certain guidelines that help determine if your condition is linked to your military service.
If your chloracne symptoms first appeared within one year of your exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides, the VA will presume that the condition is linked to that exposure. In addition, your disease must appear to a degree of at least 10% according to the VA’s disability ratings and regulations.
Why the mandatory one-year timeline? Dioxin-associated chloracne isn’t a late-onset disease. Rather, if your skin condition is linked to dioxin exposure, you will begin exhibiting symptoms shortly after exposure.
As such, if you’re just now showing signs of chloracne for the first time, it is not likely that it’s linked to your time serving in Vietnam. There are a range of industrial chemicals linked to this condition, and exposure to any of them could trigger an onset of symptoms.
Lifestyle Difficulties of Chloracne
Though chloracne isn’t as chronic as other diseases attributed to Agent Orange, it can be a debilitating condition.
Living with a skin disease can be socially isolating. It can also impact one’s personal and professional life, causing emotional and financial distress.
In addition, in acute cases of chloracne, the symptoms can extend deeper than superficial facial lesions. Sometimes, this condition can lead to serious, systemic symptoms, including:
- Sudden onset of gastrointestinal illness
- Liver dysfunction
When these physical symptoms occur, individuals will usually notice them first. Then, once they begin to abate, the more noticeable skin changes will begin.
This is because, during abatement, the chemicals will redistribute throughout the affected person’s body. As they move from their critical organ systems into their sebaceous (oil) glands, they can create the trademark bumps and nodules more commonly associated with this disease.
Once these skin changes begin, physicians can more easily link the condition to chloracne.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers talks about the Agent Orange Presumptives List:
What Causes Chloracne?
Chloracne is caused by direct exposure to halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons. These are most commonly found in:
- Herbicides (including Agent Orange)
- Wood preserving agents
Dioxins are present in these environmental pollutants. As such, exposure can lead to dioxin poisoning. This can cause a variety of health conditions, including:
- Organ disease
- Suppressed immune system
- Hormonal imbalances
- Weight loss
- Increased risk of cancer and heart attack
- Menstrual issues
In addition, dioxin poisoning can also cause the telltale facial cysts known as chloracne.
What Are the Effects of Chloracne?
Dioxin poisoning can cause the cell linings in one’s face to grow excessively. This can cause those cells to produce an excess amount of facial oils.
In response, the affected person will suffer from what appears to be a severe acne breakout. There will be both open comedones (whiteheads) as well as closed comedones (blackheads) present.
In some cases, the symptoms are very superficial and only affect one layer of the skin. In more severe cases, the chloracne can be very deep. When this is the case, the comedones can leave scars as they heal.
While the outbreaks associated with chloracne can resemble acne, it’s important to note that the skin in the affected areas is not oily. In fact, the oil glands themselves are actually smaller than normal.
Most often, these lesions will appear on the person’s cheeks and behind their ears. In some cases, they can also show up in their armpits or in their groin. In addition to these facial wounds, chloracne can also lead to other skin problems, including:
- Hyperhidrosis (excessively sweaty palms and soles of feet)
- Porphyria cutanea tarda
The latter refers to a rare skin disorder that causes blistering skin lesions to develop on sun-exposed skin. It can also lead to skin pigmentation changes and excessive hair growth in the affected area.
You can see how this condition could keep a person out of work. Any work environment that would involve being in the sun, dealing with any kind of dirty workplace, or simply interacting with customers could be very difficult.
As discussed, severe cases of chloracne can lead to gastrointestinal issues and nerve conditions, as well as issues with one’s liver and pancreas. Other physical symptoms that can be traced to this condition include:
- Chronic fatigue and sleep disturbance
- Type 2 diabetes
- Hyperlipidemia (elevated levels of circulating blood fats)
Here, one of our VA disability attorneys talks about how to file a VA disability claim for depression, which could easily be a secondary-connected disability from chloracne.
The VA Disability Process for Chloracne
Chloracne is rated under the VA’s 38 CFR § 4.118, Schedule of Ratings – Skin. It falls under the Diagnostic Code (DC) 7829. Code 7828 is reserved for acne.
One distinction to note: If you’re primarily seeking compensation for scar pain related to your chloracne, this condition will be listed and rated under the VA’s Scar Codes. These include Codes 7801, 7802, 7804, and 7085.
Under DC 7828, the following VA ratings exist for chloracne.
30% Rating for Chloracne from Agent Orange
Deep chloracne is rated at 30% if it causes inflamed nodules and pus-filled cysts. For this rating, it must affect at least 40% of the face and neck.
20% Rating for Chloracne
Deep chloracne is rated at 20% if it is deep and causes inflamed nodules and pus-filled cysts. For this rating, it must affect at least one of the following areas of the person’s body:
- Genital region
- Folds of the breast
- The skin between the fingers and toes
10% Rating for Chloracne
Deep chloracne is rated at 10% if it causes deep, inflamed nodules and pus-filled cysts. For this rating, it has to affect less than 40% of the person’s face and neck.
Note that deep chloracne is also rated at 10% if it’s located in other areas of the person’s body besides those listed above for the 20% rating.
0% Rating for Chloracne
Chloracne is rated at 0% if it is only superficial in nature. This includes the presence of comedones, pustules, or papules to any extent. Even if you get a 0% rating, it is still worth the effort for other benefits.
Other Conditions Like Cholracne
As mentioned, acne is another skin condition that can lead to symptoms that resemble chloracne. Let’s take a look at that, as well as other conditions that are similar in nature to this one.
Acne is a type of skin condition that causes pus-filled raised bumps to form on any part of the body. Like chloracne, it can be either superficial (affecting only one layer of the skin) or very deep. If it is deep and leads to scarring, it will be rated under the VA’s Scar Codes.
Otherwise, acne is rated under DC 7828.
If it is deep, with inflamed nodules and pus-filled cysts, and affects at least 40% of the face and neck, it is rated at 30%.
If it is deep, with inflamed nodules and pus-filled cysts, and affects less than 40% of the face and neck, it is rated at 10%. Deep acne is also rated at 10% if it affects other areas of the body besides the face and neck. If acne is superficial in nature, it is rated at 0%.
One of the symptoms and side effects of chloracne is Hyperhidrosis. This is characterized by sweaty and clammy palms and the soles of one’s feet.
The VA rates hyperhidrosis under DC 7832. If you have this condition to the extent that you cannot handle tools or paper because your hands are too sweaty, your rating is 30%.
A papulosquamous disorder is any type of skin disease that causes hard, scaly bumps to form on one’s skin. If you experience this condition but do not exhibit any other symptoms, this is listed under DC 7822.
Your rating will be derived from either the VA’s Basic Rating System or the Scars/Disfigurement codes. If your condition leads to intense scarring and you file that way, your code will be 7822-7801. The first number defines your condition as a papulosquamous disorder, while the second defines how it is rated.
Lupus is a disease in which someone’s immune system attacks their healthy skin cells. This can cause their skin to develop severe sores. It can also lead to scarring and tearing of the skin.
These lesions are most commonly located on and around a person’s facial areas, including:
In addition, lupus can also cause skin afflictions in other areas of the body. Like a papulosquamous disorder, it can either be rated under the VA’s Basic Rating System or under the Scars/Disfigurement category.
Note that if it affects any other part of the body besides just the skin, this condition is categorized as systematic lupus erythematosus. As such it is rated under DC 6350: Infectious Diseases, Immune Disorders, and Nutritional Deficiencies.
Applying for VA Benefits
If you believe that you’re suffering from chloracne as a result of your time in the military, you could be eligible for certain VA disability benefits.
Before you apply for these benefits, it’s best to speak with a VA-certified disability attorney. We are well-versed in VA disability law because we work on it every single day.
We can help determine the service connection for your condition, compute your estimated VA disability rating, and guide your next steps.
The Filing Process
Once a connection is established, you can apply for disability compensation by filing either a paper application or using the VA’s eBenefits platform (recommended). When completing your application, you’ll need to list all of your mental and physical disabilities. In some cases, these could also be service-connected impairments.
In addition to your medical records, other documentation to submit includes:
- Your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214)
- Other separation documents
- All service treatment records
- Other medical evidence or records
You’ll receive a receipt after submitting your application. Then, a Veterans Service Representative (VSR) will review your materials. The VSR may contact you for more details as they seek to establish a service connection to your disability.
Once the VSR has thoroughly reviewed your materials, they will write a letter to the VA explaining their rating recommendation. Once the VA reviews and finalizes the VSR decision, you’ll receive your official rating decision letter. If you believe the rating is incorrect, you can work with your attorney to file an appeal.
These are the steps for you to DIY your VA disability claim. If you work with us we handle all of the paperwork, replies to the VA, and go over your file multiple times to get the best rating you deserve.
Get the VA Disability Compensation You Deserve
Whether your chloracne is superficial or severe, it can affect you in many different ways. From social isolation to physical ailments, the symptoms are wide-ranging, and all of them can impact your life.
If you developed this skin disease after exposure to Agent Orange during your time in the U.S. military, you could be eligible to receive disability benefits through the VA. When you’re ready to explore this option, we’re here to help.
Our team of competent VA-certified disability attorneys will make sure you receive the compensation you’re due. Contact us today for a free legal consultation and we’ll try to answer all of your questions.
We will continue your case for the sake of your surviving spouse or dependents. In many circumstances, they are able to receive the benefits that you earned.