Chloracne Agent Orange: Surprising Facts

Chloracne Agent Orange: Surprising Facts

Agent Orange was one of the most important herbicides used in the Vietnam War, but it led to a skin condition called chloracne in many Vietnam Veterans. Exposure to herbicides with a toxin called dioxin causes chloracne.

If you’re a Veteran and suspect you have chloracne, you may be entitled to VA disability benefits. Here’s why.

What Is Agent Orange?

Agent Orange was a formerly used tactical herbicide that the military leveraged to eliminate vegetation and thick leaves for their operations in the Vietnam War. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange can develop certain illnesses or ailments as a direct result of this exposure. One of the most common developments is chloracne.

What Is Chloracne?

In a nutshell, chloracne is a skin condition characterized by nodules, cysts, and blackheads. It has been directly linked to exposure to dioxin, a contaminant resulting from Agent Orange production. Furthermore, chloracne is the only skin disorder consistently associated with Agent Orange and similar herbicides.

Because of this, the military considers chloracne a “presumptive condition” of service in Vietnam.

Regular acne forms when glands in the skin produce too much sebum, a moisturizing oil that prevents the skin from drying out. However, chloracne results when the toxic chemicals from Agent Orange concentrate into the skin glands. This may gradually cause the skin glands to turn into cysts, leading to widespread acne-related problems.

Many of the symptoms of chloracne include:

  • The appearance of numerous and abnormal blackheads
  • The darkening of body/facial hair
  • The appearance of fluid-filled cysts
  • The appearance of acne all across the area and especially around the eyes

Chloracne is not regular acne, though the severity of chloracne can vary from person to person.

Let’s break down some of the most important facts about Agent Orange exposure and chloracne as it manifests in many Veterans.

Chloracne and Presumptive Conditions

Chloracne is considered a presumptive condition for Veterans exposed to Agent Orange or similar herbicides during their military service. A presumptive condition means that merely diagnosing the condition in Veterans may allow them to receive VA disability benefits for that condition without having to prove a specific medical nexus.

According to the VA rating system, a service connection is automatically awarded if chloracne appears within a year of exposure to Agent Orange to a degree of 10% disability. Chloracne must appear within a year of Agent Orange because the symptoms usually present shortly after skin exposure.

Suppose you are looking to get a VA disability rating for chloracne. In that case, it is rated under the DC or Diagnostic Code 7829 and with rating percentages of between 0% and 30%, ranging from superficial acne to deep acne with inflamed nodules and pus-filled cysts that affect more than 40% of the face and/or neck.

Chloracne Could Cause Skin Thickness to Fluctuate

One of the more subtle symptoms of chloracne could be fluctuating skin thickness. In affected skin, skin tissue may eventually become thicker and more susceptible to flakiness or peeling. This could directly result from the skin glands, which normally moisturize the skin and protect it from environmental wear and tear, turning into cysts or otherwise degrading with time.

In the most severe cases, this skin thickness fluctuation could cause open ruptures, sores, or scars to form on Veterans. These symptoms could persist for several years after exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides in severe cases.

Chloracne Could Last for Years

Unfortunately, many Veterans find that their service-connected chloracne lasts for years without relief. Regular acne fluctuates from time to time, becoming more less severe according to hormone levels, environmental contaminants, and other factors.

Chloracne and its associated symptoms could last for many years, even when treated with topical creams or other interventions. Chloracne usually begins to showcase its symptoms within a few weeks after exposure to dioxin and similar herbicidal hazards.

Fluid-Filled Cysts and Darker Body Hair Could Accompany Chloracne

While most chloracne is relatively mild to moderate, some chloracne can become more severe over time and eventually develop darker, thicker hair on the face or neck alongside fluid-filled cysts.

The fluid-filled cysts are particularly problematic for Veterans looking to treat their chloracne. The cysts fill up with pus. When the cysts rupture, they could spread pus to other skin pores and develop other blackheads or chloracne cysts. Because of this, treating chloracne is often a long and involved process and may require ongoing visits to dermatologists.

It’s Tough To Distinguish Chloracne From Other Skin Conditions

Although chloracne can be very severe, many Veterans don’t receive the disability benefits they deserve for their service because it can be tough to distinguish from other skin conditions. Specifically, Veterans who had serious acne before developing chloracne may not notice an immediate difference between their normal skin pimples and chloracne cysts.

As a result, they may accidentally miss out on the window to apply for disability benefits for their chloracne. Recall that Veterans must receive a disability rating for chloracne within one year of exposure to Agent Orange.

Because of this, Veterans who suspect they may have chloracne should speak to a dermatologist and a Veterans law office like Berry Law right away. This is the best way to confirm whether you have chloracne and whether you can receive disability benefits for your condition.

Skin Disorders Are the Most Common Health Issues for Combat Veterans

Skin disorders overall are among the most common medical issues for Veterans. The skin is a very sensitive organ. Exposure to the hazards common in military life – such as pollutants, toxins, jet fuel, and other gases – can upset the skin’s balance and lead to serious side effects.

If you believe that you have a service-connected skin disorder, you could be missing out on the disability benefits you deserve.


In the end, chloracne is a difficult condition to tackle, particularly for Vietnam Veterans who may not know that they even have a condition. Berry Law is well equipped and ready to help you both identify your chloracne and connect it to your military service, even if you haven’t filed for disability benefits within the 1-year timeframe.

With Berry Law’s help, you may be able to overturn a claim denial and receive the benefits you deserve for your chloracne to treat the condition and improve the health of your skin. Contact Berry Law today for a free consultation and more information.


Agent Orange Exposure |

Chloracne or Acneform Disease and Agent Orange – Public Health |

Skin Conditions Qualifying for Presumptive Service Connection – Public Health |

38 CFR § 4.118 – Schedule of ratings – skin. | CFR | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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