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Gulf War Skin Conditions

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Gulf War veterans often face numerous health challenges after their service and skin conditions are among the most common. Understanding the presumptive skin conditions recognized by the VA is important for Gulf War veterans seeking support, treatment and wanting to file claims for disability benefits. 

Gulf War Presumptive Skin Conditions 

The VA recognizes certain skin conditions as presumptive for Gulf War veterans. This means that veterans do not need to prove a direct service connection between their time in military service and the condition. 

The skin conditions that qualify as presumptive include:

  • Chronic Dermatitis: Characterized by inflamed, itchy and red skin, causing significant discomfort and sometimes requiring long-term treatment.
  • Eczema: Involves patches of skin becoming inflamed, itchy, cracked and rough. In some cases, blisters may also appear, and flare ups are often difficult to manage.
  • Psoriasis: An autoimmune disease that causes red, scaly patches on the skin. Gulf War veterans often report particularly severe outbreaks that impact their quality of life.

To be eligible for these presumptive conditions, veterans must have served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Gulf War. This includes service in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and surrounding areas.

Service Connecting Other Skin Conditions Affecting Gulf War Veterans

In addition to the presumptive conditions listed above, there are a variety of other skin conditions that impact Gulf War veterans specifically. 

Toxic exposure to chemicals like jet fuel, or extended periods around burn pits, which many Gulf War veterans experienced during service, can exacerbate skin problems. Iraq War veterans’ skin problems were also often caused or aggravated by exposure to extreme heat, sand and dust. 

Here are some common skin issues that may be related to service in SW Asia:

  • Fungal Infections: These include athletes’ feet and ringworm, and they can be persistent and challenging to treat effectively. 
  • Urticaria (Hives): Characterized by red, itchy welts on the skin that vary in size, they are reported often by Gulf War veterans and commonly triggered by environmental factors and stress experienced during service.
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis: A common skin condition causing scaly patches, red skin and stubborn dandruff, primarily impacting oily areas of the body. It is often exacerbated by harsh conditions encountered during service.
  • Acne and Folliculitis: Involve inflammation of hair follicles, and prevalent among veterans due to exposure to environmental contaminants and stressors. Folliculitis, in particular, can be a persistent issue requiring medical attention.
  • Rosacea: A chronic skin condition causing redness and visible blood vessels in the face, sometimes producing small, red, pus-filled bumps. Stress and environment can trigger or worsen rosacea in veterans.
  • Pruritus (Chronic Itching): This condition can be incredibly uncomfortable and related to other underlying skin disorders or systemic conditions triggered by Gulf War service.

You can claim compensation for a variety of other skin conditions – but you will need to prove that your condition has been caused or aggravated by the military service.

How to Win a VA Disability Claim for Gulf War Skin Conditions

In a recent VA claim, a Gulf War veteran successfully filed for service connection for chronic dermatitis. The veteran provided medical evidence of the condition, service records showing deployment to the Gulf region and a statement from a dermatologist linking the dermatitis to Gulf War service.

Why Was This Claim Successful?

  • Detailed medical records documenting the skin condition.
  • Clear evidence of service in the Gulf War region.
  • Expert medical opinion linking the condition to Gulf War service.

Gulf War veterans experiencing skin conditions should be aware of their rights and the benefits available to them. Understanding presumptive and other common skin issues can help veterans receive the support they deserve. 

If you were denied VA disability benefits for a skin condition as a Gulf War veteran and are filing for an appeal, Hill and Ponton may be able to assist you.

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Content Reviewed by

Cassandra Crosby

Cassandra Crosby, Claims Advocate Avatar

Cassandra, an Accredited Agent and claims advocate for Matthew Hill & Shelly Mark’s teams, reviewed the information provided in this post.

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