Chloracne is a rare skin eruption of blackheads, cysts and nodules, which has been linked directly to dioxin exposure. Mild forms may resemble teenage acne. Physicians sometimes have difficulty distinguishing chloracne from more common skin disorders.
Chloracne is a well established, long-term effect of exposure to TCDD or dioxin, a contaminant in Agent Orange. It is the only skin disorder consistently reported to be associated specifically with Agent Orange and other herbicides. However, not all persons exposed to dioxin develop chloracne.
Symptoms include excessive oiliness of the skin and the appearance of numerous blackheads, often accompanied by fluid-filled cysts and dark body hair. In mild cases, blackheads may be limited to the area around the eyes, extending along the temples to the ears. In more severe cases, blackheads also may appear in other places, especially over the cheek bone area, other facial areas, behind the ears, and along the arms. Severe chloracne may lead to open sores and permanent scars.
Skin may become thicker and flake or peel. The condition fades slowly after exposure. Minor cases may disappear altogether, but more severe cases may persist for years after the exposure.