People may be surprised to learn how diverse my client base is - it ranges from teenagers to middle aged women to... Veterans.
Even though events like the Vietnam War seem to be far behind us, I still find myself coming face-to-face with its direct effects in my veteran patients. Today, I’m addressing their most common question: is Agent Orange the cause of their skin issues?
Previously, I’ve been aware of the effect of Agent Orange on cutaneous blisters, cutaneous lymphoma and chloracne. However, most of my patients usually want to know if their rash or eczema is related - and I don’t always have a definitive answer. That’s why I was relieved to stumble across a report that has the most appropriate place to refer them to - Veteran Affairs (VA).
It appears that all these skin conditions and their relationship with substances such as Agent Orange have not been fully assessed, but if they are, the VA would be the best place to source that information. Even though there’s more work to be done here, a lot more conditions are now known to be related to Agent Orange than before.
I believe that the VA should definitely document all these associated conditions and I would hope that if they had a list of those who were exposed to Agent Orange, those veterans would be eligible for additional benefits to ensure that their skin conditions were treated appropriately. If you are a veteran and in doubt of the cause of your skin condition/s, I would highly encourage you to seek out the opinion of a dermatologist and subsequently learn more by being referred to the VA.
Skin Diseases Associated With Agent Orange and Other Organochlorine Exposures
J Am Acad Dermatol 2015 Jul 22;[EPub Ahead of Print], AT Patterson, BH Kaffenberger, RA Keller, DM Elston