In a recent blog I discussed the impact of Agent Orange and its relationship to cancerous versus non-cancerous diseases – specifically skin conditions. The most common skin condition discussed by the VA is Chloracne or Aceneform Disease. This is a presumptive disease…in other words, the VA considers veterans exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service to a degree of at least 10%. The caveat is that, per the VA, the disease must be evident within one year of exposure to the herbicides.
According to my research, chloracne is a “rare” skin eruption of blackheads, cysts, nodules, etc. All of these have been directly related to the cancer causing toxin Dioxin. Due to the varied levels in severity, it may be difficult for a physician to distinguish between chloracne and other common skin disorders.
The symptoms initially are very clear – excessive oiliness of the skin, numerous blackheads, fluid-filled cysts, and dark body hair. It should be noted that these are evidenced in the most severe cases. But what about those cases that are not considered to be severe and, therefore, not presenting in the same way? Awareness of other signs and symptoms to look for include thickening or flaking/peeling of the skin. Symptoms may diminish over time OR they may continue to be severe. The worst cases often result in open sores and permanent scarring – some fading slowing over time while others persist for years.
Does this lead to melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer? Very possibly. However, the struggle in proving that any melanoma or was caused by Agent Orange or other herbicides is very difficult as stated in my recent blog discussing melanoma and the limited research conducted on its impact of Agent Orange/Herbicides on the skin – the largest organ in the human body.
Approximately 3 million Americans served in the armed forces in Vietnam. During that time the military used huge amounts of mixtures, also known as defoliants, in order to destroy the foliage that gave the enemy an advantage since it was a source of cover or camouflage. This tactic to assist in the efforts of the military (especially those on with boots on the ground), also had a negative impact on our own fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, etc.. With 1.5 million serving in Vietnam during the time when the heaviest herbicide spraying occurred (1967-1969), it’s clear to see why so many veterans suffer from Chloracne; as well as numerous other diseases and/or conditions.